Processing of consonant clusters by Japanese native speakers: Influence of English learning backgrounds

Hinako Masuda*, Takayuki Arai

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Previous research has revealed that Japanese native speakers are highly likely to both perceive and produce epenthetic vowels between consonants. The goal of the present study is to investigate the influence of English learning backgrounds in the perception and production of consonant clusters by Japanese native speakers. In Experiment 1, a forced-choice AXB task to identify VC(u)CV is assigned to 17 highly fluent Japanese-English bilinguals and 22 Japanese monolinguals. Results show that monolinguals made significantly more errors than bilinguals. In Experiment 2, the influence of English proficiency on the production of consonant clusters, and the effect of consonant voicing on vowel epenthesis are investigated. The epenthetic vowels are acoustically analyzed and categorized into three degrees: full, partial and no epenthesis. The voicing combinations of the consonant clusters are C[+voice]-C[+voice], C[-voice]-C[+voice], and C[-voice]-C[-voice]. Results show that monolinguals inserted more epenthetic vowels than bilinguals, and that the influence of consonant voicing was stronger in monolinguals than bilinguals. Furthermore, monolinguals' epenthetic vowels between C[-voice]-C[+voice] and C[-voice]-C[-voice] tended to become devoiced than bilinguals. This result suggests a stronger L1 influence on monolinguals. The results of the two experiments thus suggest that the English proficiency influences the perception and production of consonant clusters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)320-327
Number of pages8
JournalAcoustical Science and Technology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • 43.70.Kv
  • Consonant cluster
  • L2 perception
  • L2 production
  • Proficiency PACS number: 43.71.Hw
  • Vowel epenthesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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