Second Language Acquisition of the Spanish Multiple Vibrant Consonant
AuthorJohnson, Keith E.
Committee ChairWarner, Natasha
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe Spanish voiced alveolar multiple vibrant consonant /r/, or trill, is often regarded as one of the most difficult sounds in the Spanish phonological inventory for second language (L2) learners. Trills are particularly difficult segments because of their exacting articulatory requirements for production. The highly restricted gestural and aerodynamic configuration required to successfully produce trills could lead to non-native trills automatically being native-like once acquired by learners, unlike other segments which generally show measurably gradient approximation of native values over time. This study employed two experiments to investigate the characteristics of L2 acquisition of Spanish /r/ by adult native speakers of English. The first experiment broadly surveyed the frequency of trill production at four levels of proficiency and among a comparison group of native speakers of Mexican Spanish when trills were the target segments in words. This experiment was designed to show the rate of trill frequency at different learner-levels and to compare it with the rate at which native speakers produce trills. A pattern of increasing ability to produce trills as proficiency level increased was found, as was a pattern of substitution of the alveolar tap as an intermediate strategy among learners who had ceased to transfer American English r but who had not yet acquired the ability to produce trills consistently. The second experiment investigated the aerodynamic properties of successfully produced trills to see if the trills of learners who had acquired the ability to produce trills displayed different physical properties from native speakers' trills. Patterns of both "categorical" and "gradient" acquisition were found. On the several measures studied, non-native trills showed patterns of acquisition in which their trills either were immediately native-like, acquired with non-native-like properties which fossilized with no further improvement, or showed gradient improvement in the direction of nativeness as proficiency level increased.
Degree ProgramSecond Language Acquisition & Teaching