Gestural Development in Adult Second Language Acquisition: Targets and Timing
AuthorAldrich, Alexander Charles
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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, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation deals with the development of place of articulation and of rhythm in adult second language learners. English and Spanish, while sharing similar phonological stop inventories, have coronal stops that differ as a matter of gestural target: In English, the coronal stops have an alveolar place of articulation, whereas they have a dental target in Spanish. Previous research on the acquisition of second language stops, particularly as a function of the acoustic correlates of voicing, have found that second language learners find acquiring stop contrasts particularly challenging; however, to date, no published data exist on the acquisition of L2 stops that have unique gestural targets. English and Spanish also differ typologically as a matter of their rhythm, with English being categorized as stress-timed and Spanish as syllable-timed. Previous research has shown that adults are capable of acquiring aspects of their L2 rhythm; however, the findings have been mixed. Furthermore, detailed developmental data on L2 rhythm is lacking. The present dissertation addresses both the acquisition of place of articulation and of rhythm in a cross-sectional design. The production data of 41 female, adult native speakers of English learning Spanish were collected and compared to those of 9 female adult native bilinguals of English and Spanish. The learners were assigned to four different study conditions based on their linguistic experience. The results suggest that the native bilinguals produce Spanish and English with language-specific gestural targets for their coronal stops and language-specific rhythm patterns in the direction expected for each language. The data from the language learners imply that, on the one hand, adults learning a second language are capable of developing increasingly target-like gestural targets in their L2 Spanish coronal stop production as they gain experience with the second language. On the other hand, the rhythm data reveal that speakers of a second language quickly learn to make adjustments to their rhythm toward target-like norms, but that evidence of transfer remains. The implications of the findings are discussed with respect to second language phonological theory.
Degree ProgramGraduate College