Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 12. Number4   December 2021                                           Pp. 551-559

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Phonological Constraints on the Utterance of L2 Clusters by Saudi ESL Learners 

Abdullah N. Alotaibi
Department of English
Collage of Science and Humanities in Rumaah
Majmaah University, AL-Majmaah Saudi Arabia
Corresponding Author:

Received: 9/21/2021                     Accepted: 12/2/ 2021                   Published:12/27/2021 


The field of L2 phonology did not receive much research compared to the other linguistic domains. To add to the field and expand the current literature, the present paper’s goal was to examine the impact of syllable structure differences between Arabic and English in uttering L2 English consonant clusters. The following research question was aimed to be answered: Do the differences between two languages’ syllable structure cause production difficulties in the consonant cluster to Saudi Arabian learners of English? The subjects of this investigation were L2 English learners from Saudi with intermediate proficiency levels in English. Applying the descriptive correlational type of research model, the results showed that learners’ production is mainly influenced by their native language-specific phonological features. The learners’ production of targeted L2 consonant clusters seemed to mirror their underlying phonological system, and syllables structures were modified to match their native Arabic phonological system as a result of language transfer. These findings should be taken into account by L2 speech educators as such speech difficulty is anticipated.
Keywords:  Consonant cluster, language interference, L2 phonology, L2 production,
L2 perception, L2 syllable, Saudi Arabic

Cite as:  Alotaibi, A. N. (2021). Phonological Constraints on the Utterance of L2 Clusters by Saudi ESL Learners.  Arab World English Journal, 12 (4) 551-559.


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Received: 9/21/2021
Accepted: 12/2/ 2021    
Published: 12/27/2021

Dr. Abdullah Nijr Alotaibi is an assistant professor of Applied linguistics at Majmaah University. He received his doctoral degree from Indiana University, USA. His research interests are in the area of second language learning, developmental speech perception, and Phonetic cues in second language perception and production. ORCiD ID: