<p>This study investigates constraints on ultimate attainment in second language (L2) pronunciation in a direct comparison of perceived foreign accent of 40 late L2 learners and 40 late first language (L1) attriters of German. Both groups were compared with 20 predominantly monolingual controls. Contrasting participants who acquired the target language from birth (monolinguals, L1 attriters) with late L2 learners, on the one hand, and bilinguals (L1 attriters, L2ers) with monolinguals, on the other hand, allowed us to disentangle the impacts of age of onset and bilingualism in speech production. At the group level, the attriters performed indistinguishably from controls, and both differed from the L2 group. However, 80% of all L2ers scored within the native (attriter) range. Correlational analyses with background factors further found some effects of use and language aptitude. These results show that acquiring a language from birth is not sufficient to guarantee nativelike pronunciation, and late acquisition does not necessarily prevent it. The results are discussed in the light of models on the role of age and cross-linguistic influence in L2 acquisition.</p>
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