The modification of English /s/+ consonant onset clusters by Levant Arabic speakers

Thumbnail Image
Salem, Samah Tawfq
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Education
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education, 2014
This thesis investigates the production of English word initial /s/+ consonant clusters (sC) in the speech of eleven adult native Levant Arabic speakers (LAs). In particular, the study investigates the modification strategies that are utilised by LAs when articulating English sC clusters. This study controlled for some of the extra-linguistic factors, which might have an impact on the production of these clusters: length of exposure to North American culture, level of proficiency and onset time of learning. A word-reading task was assigned to elicit the data. The production of these words was compared with that of nine native Canadian English speakers (CEs). The findings of this study are distinct from those of previous, related inter-language studies (Al-Saidat, 2010; Gouskova & Hall, 2007; Al-Shuaibi, 2006, Selkirk, 1981), which concluded that Arabic English as a second language (ESL) speakers have a tendency to insert a vowel in consonant clusters as a strategy (i.e., epenthesis) to facilitate the articulation of these clusters. However, the acoustic analysis employed in this study showed that the targeted clusters were articulated without vowel insertion. Our acoustic analysis leads us to conclude that the strategy in producing sC clusters among our study’s sample of LAs has nothing to do with epenthesis. Instead, LAs produce clusters with a difference in the length of the /s/ and of the following consonant closure. In particular, the /s/ duration is shorter and the consonant closure is longer. It is our hope that the new light shed on this phenomenon will further inform teaching practice for those working with Arabic ESL learners, while also sparking further discussion and research in the inter-language research community.
viii, 71 leaves ; 29 cm
English sC clusters , Levant Arabic speakers , Acoustic analysis , Epenthesis , Arabic ESL learners , Dissertations, Academic