Spit or sbit? ST-type consonant clusters in the speech of Polish learners of English

Geoffrey Schwartz


This paper presents two small-scale acoustic phonetic studies investigating the pronunciation of sibilant-stop (ST) consonant clusters in Polish, and in the L2 speech of L1 Polish learners of English. In English, aspiration of fortis stops is not attested in the post-/s/ context. Rather, short-lag voice onset time (VOT) measures are observed in L1 English in post-/s/ stop consonants, a phonetic weakening that renders them phonetically similar in terms of VOT to lenis stops in initial position. In Polish, both voiced and voiceless stops may appear after sibilant fricatives. The acoustic results suggest that (1) L1 Polish does not weaken its stops in ST clusters, and (2) that more L1 Polish speakers exhibit some weakening in their L2 English clusters as a function of proficiency, but do not produce native-like VOTs in ST sequences. Implications of these findings for L2 speech research and the phonological status of ST clusters are discussed.

Słowa kluczowe: second language speech, Polish, phonetics, phonology, consonant clusters

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