Perception of L2 Voicing System and its Effect on L2 Spelling: The Case of Cypriot Greek Speakers Learning English

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Native users of Cypriot Greek (CG), a variety of Greek spoken in the Republic of Cyprus, may sporadically misspell letters representing plosives while writing in English. Users of English with CG as their L1 tend to spell words containing voiced plosives using letters that stand for voiceless counterparts of the plosives, and vice versa. Such spelling mistakes can also be found on various shop labels, signboards, menus or leaflets. Hence, it is possible to encounter spellings such as octobus instead of ‘octopus’, rapid not ‘rabbit’, delicadessen for ‘delicatessen’, carlic for ‘garlic’, or avocato for ‘avocado’. This research investigates the possible link between the said spelling and possible difficulties with the perception of voicing in English plosives by speakers of CG caused by the differences between voicing patterns of English and CG. A forced-choice perceptual test was administered to a group of 90 learners of English at 5 different levels of proficiency in English. The experiment tested Greek Cypriots’ perception of minimal pairs that differed in the voicing of the plosives that they contained. The analysis of the relationship between the factors affecting the perception of voicing in English plosives and the frequency of perceptual mistakes in the forced-choice test suggest that native speakers of CG do not perceive the voicing patterns of English plosives in the way native speakers of English do. It seems that native speakers of CG depend largely on VOT and to some extent on the change in fundamental frequency when processing voiceless plosives. Also, formant transitions following a plosive play a certain role in the perception of voiceless stops by CG speakers. As far as voiced stops are concerned, the data did not reveal a clear relationship between VOT, the change in F0 or formant transitions, and the number of mistakes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMind and second language acquisition
Subtitle of host publicationExperimental Approaches
Place of Publication Newcastle upon Tyne
PublisherCambridge Scholars
Number of pages26
ISBN (Print)1-5275-8409-7, 978-1-5275-8409-9
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • speech perception
  • spelling mistakes
  • voice onset time
  • fundamental frequency
  • formant transitions
  • plosives


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