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Abstract

Richards (2012) and Zhang (n.d.) report that some Chinese L2 speakers of English confuse /l/ and /n/. Koffi (2019:249-50) indicates that some acoustic correlates of /l/ and /n/ produced by Mandarin 6F, 8M, 9M, and 17M mask each other. Preliminary evidence suggests that this pronunciation is confined to speakers from Hubei, Sichuan, and Shangai. The goal of this investigation is to undertake a comprehensive study involving 27 Chinese speakers and their pronunciations of [l]s in the nouns and and of the [n] in the verb . The first part of the investigation is a confusion study. The second deals with the F2 measurements of [l] and [n]. We focus on F2 because it is the most robust correlate for discriminating between [l] and [n] (Ladefoged 2003:1455). Thirdly, Catford’s (1987) Relative Functional Load (RFL) indices are used to gauge the severity of intelligibility when [l] and [n] are confused. Finally, pedagogical implications are drawn and relevant articulatory exercises are suggested to help Chinese speakers discriminate effectively between these two problematic segments.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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