All in all, the thesis tries to fill the research gap in the study of English pronunciation in a Hong Kong context. It exhausts the pronunciation of all types of English consonant clusters by native Cantonese learners of English, provides experimental studies to investigate the most effective approach to the acquisition of English consonant clusters, and applies Optimality Theory to elucidate the pronunciation phenomena found among Cantonese learners of English.
Apart from the inquiry into language pedagogy, this thesis also analyses and expounds the language phenomena of consonant cluster production through the application of Optimality Theory. From the data of the pre-test and post-tests, the pronunciation modification phenomena of subjects were summarised and analysed. It is found that subjects produced pronunciation forms that resembled that of native English speakers, but at the same time they produced forms that deviated from that of native English speakers. The most frequent pronunciation modifications are substitution and deletion.
Optimality Theory argues that phonological differences between languages are the results of the differences in the ranking of universal constraints; therefore, the preference towards certain modification phenomena and the production of certain pronunciation forms by Cantonese speakers can be viewed as the differences in the ranking of constraints between English and Cantonese. In the interlanguage phonology of Cantonese speakers, words like pray /pre I/ and find /faInd/ could become [pe I] and [faIn] phonetically. This can be explained by assuming that the English words are input to a phonology in which *COMPLEX (complex onset or coda is not permissible) is highly ranked, and that in order to observe this constraint, Cantonese learners of English might apply deletion to delete a consonant in syllables with consonant clusters.