Chapter 1 Introduction
1.1 Origin of the research topic
In the process of teaching phonetics, I found many students have more or lesspronouncing mistakes, most of which are mistakes in English consonants (CESS,hereafter)and English consonant clusters(ECCS, hereafter),such as great to etc. No matter how many times I corrected them, I can only see atemporary effect. This phenomenon makes both the students and teachers frustrated.Therefore, I decided to look through the related reference. After a brief review ofliteratures, native language transfer has been researched by many scholars. TheContrastive Analysis of hypothesis (CAH, hereafter) is the main theory on nativelanguage transfer. However, there exist many problems. If the elements in L2 aremuch more similar to those in LI, it will be easier for the learners to acquire theconnect pronunciation. This is because LI plays a positive transfer. While, on theother hand，the elements in L2 are much different from those in LI, it will be muchmore difficult for the learners to acquire and even to correct. The reason is that the LIplays a stronger role of negative transfer than positive one. Therefore, native languagetransfer can only explain a certain amount of the errors and it isn't able to solve all theproblems thoroughly and completely. For the research, some serendipitous factorsexist. Up to now, so many scholars still hold native language transfer to explain L2phonology.
1.2 Theoretical and Pedagogical Significance
Until now, OT has been widely applied in the field of L2 phonology abroad, suchresearchers as Radwanska-Williams and Yam, 2001; Broselow and Xu, 2004; Cardoso，2007. While, the domestic development of OT framework is not as systematic andthorough as abroad, only a few scholars making their researches under the frameworkof OT, such as Yan, 2004; Fan, 2008.The research of ECS and ECCS by CLES withinthe powerful framework of OT will absolutely help the scholars find a more scientificand complete pattern to explain the problems in L2 phonology. More significantly, thepresent research is different from the previous ones. It is the first time that the presentresearch combines both and ECS and ECCS as a whole in the field of L2 phonology.And it will further improve the development of L2 consonant acquisition.Pedagogically, most of the L2 phonological researches still rely on the nativelanguage transfer as the theoretical basis. As mentioned above, there are someserendipitous elements in the native language transfer in that it can only explain partof the errors. While, OT is an extremely different theory from the native transferlanguage. In daily teaching, teachers can outbreak the teaching model of perceptuallyblind error correction, start with the analysis of mistakes in final ESC and ECCS,rationally help the students reduce pronouncing mistakes in the perspective ofdifferent re-ranking of constraint hierarchy in Chinese and English Syllable structure, and consequently, improve the self-awareness of CLES.
Chapter 2 Theoretical Background and Literature Review
2.1 Theoretical Background
Optimality Theory was first put forward by the phonological linguist Alan Princeand the Cognitive scientist Paul Smolensky in 1993, and it has become a newphonological theory. OT not only denies some important hypotheses in traditionalgenerative phonology, but challenges some fundamental theories in GenerativeLinguistics. And more than that, OT provides a new perspective for the languageanalysis, so that it attracts extensive attention worldwide. The basic principles of OTby McCarthy & Prince (1994) are summarized as follows: Violability. Constraints are violable, but the degree of violable must be minimal.Specifically speaking, in particular language constraints, those front positions(higher ranking) are inviolable; those in middle positions (inter mediate rankings)are either inviolable or not; those in back positions (lower rankings) are alwaysviolable. It is because OT rest