Influence of L2 English phonotactics in L1 Brazilian Portuguese illusory vowel perception

Jennifer Cabrelli*, Alicia Luque, Irene Finestrat-Martínez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


This study examines potential changes to L1 (Brazilian Portuguese, BP) perception of phonotactic structure as a function of L2 (English) experience. Syllables with a coda stop violate syllable structure constraints in BP, but are licit in English. As a result, BP monolinguals perceive an illusory /i/ after an illicit coda (e.g., ob/i/ter ‘to obtain’). To understand the effects on L1 perception when the L2 phonology allows a syllabic structure that is illicit in the L1, we tested 15 L1 speakers of BP in an L2 English immersion setting. In separate BP and English sessions, participants completed an explicit metalinguistic vowel identification task and two ABX tasks, with one ABX task designed to tap lower-level processing and the other, higher-level phonological processing. Our analysis reveals that, while not fully target-like in L2 English, the bilinguals’ perception data in both languages contrast sharply with existing monolingual BP data. This is the case whether participants employ what we assume here to be metalinguistic strategies, lower-level encoding strategies, or higher-level encoding strategies in perception. Based on this pattern of results, we conclude that the data provide evidence of L2 phonotactic influence in L1 perception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-69
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Phonetics
StatePublished - Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Attrition
  • Crosslinguistic influence
  • Illusory vowels
  • Perception
  • Phonotactics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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