This study introduces the theoretical basis for the articulatory distance in foreign language learning context, which serves to find the efficient and optimal path to correctly pronounce the consonants of the target language in a learner-language-sensitive way, i.e. taking into account the operational difficulties for different learners who already have their own specific phonological system. As our previous studies have shown for vowel pronunciation, no difficulty can be language-universal in pronouncing consonants as well as vowels: uvular fricatives, for example, can be hard for many Japanese learners who use just one sound at this position - and not even fricative, but they are usually less hard for Russian learners who use fricatives at a close (velar) position from the uvula. Our articulatory distance value tries to quantify such differences in pronunciation difficulties, so that we can, in the first place, analyze the structure of such difficulties which can arise from various factors including the articulatory unfamiliarity (in manner or/and position of articulation) and the multiplicity of the task, and in the next step, find the right starting point as well as the optimal (that is, the less hard and the most efficient) path to reach the target consonant, even if they are counter-intuitive or counter-perceptual.
Shunsuke Nakata, Akita International University, Japan
Florent Domenach, Akita International University, Japan
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