English orthographic forms affect L2 English speech production in native users of a non-alphabetic writing system

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There is growing evidence that the orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words affect second language (L2) speech production, but it is not known whether orthography affects L2 phonology in native users of a non-alphabetic writing system. To answer this question, this study tested the effects of number of letters on the duration of consonants and vowels in the EnglishL2 speech production of Japanese–English sequential bilinguals. JapaneseL1–EnglishL2 bilinguals and English native speakers (both n = 16) performed a delayed word repetition task, producing 16 English word pairs in which the same consonant or vowel was spelled either with a single letter or with double letters, as in city-kitty. The bilinguals produced the same English sound as longer or shorter depending on the number of letters in its spelling, confirming that L2 orthographic forms affect L2 speakers’ phonological representations of L2 words even when their L1 writing system is not alphabetical.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)591-601
Number of pages11
JournalBilingualism: Language and Cognition
Issue number3
Early online date12 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • bilingualism, speech production, orthographic effects, L2 phonology, English as a second language, Japanese