Almost no previous research has described the learner language produced by
English L1 learners of Persian L2. This study is a descriptive analysis of two phonemes,
a voiced velar fricative /q/ and a voiceless velar fricative /x/, in the learner language
produced in unrehearsed oral interaction by two adult English-speaking learners of
Persian L2. The main focus of the study is to identify and predict possible instances of
transfer from English L1 to Persian L2, and to see whether the position of /q/ and /x/ in
the syllable affects the learners’ accuracy in producing these phonemes. The general
approach to analysis used in the present study was a combination of contrastive analysis,
error analysis, and learner language analysis. Results showed that the absent phonemes in
the English phonemic system caused difficulties for the English-speaking learners of
Persian. Both /x/ and /q/ were variably replaced by the English voiceless velar stop /k/,
which can in part be attributed to native language transfer since there is no such sound as
/x/ or /q/ in English, but might also be attributed to conditioned variation in native
speakers’ production of /q/ (Windfuhr, 1979). The accuracy level and the phonemes
substituted for the Persian target consonants varied in different contexts, as predicted by
variationist SLA theory (e.g. Tarone, 1988; Major, 2001; Bayley & Tarone, 2012). The
occurrence of /x/ and /q/ in an open or closed syllable did not affect their pronunciation;
however, their occurrence in syllable initial or syllable final position did. Implications of
these findings for second-language acquisition research and for Persian L2 pedagogy are explored.
1 online resource (PDF, 77 pages). Submitted October, 2013 as a Plan B paper in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a master's degree in English as a Second Language from the University of Minnesota.
Velar fricatives in English-Persian learner language.
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