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Learning to Realize Prosodic Prominence in L2 French and Spanish
Laura Colantoni, Olivia Marasco, Jeffrey Steele, and Simona Sunara
15-29 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This study investigates relative difficulty in the L2 acquisition of lexical (Spanish) and post-lexical (French) prosodic prominence. It is hypothesized that intermediate and advanced English-speaking learners of L2 Spanish will outperform their French-learning counterparts in placing prominence (Hypothesis 1) because, in Spanish as in English, the lexical word is the domain of stress assignment. Additionally, due to cross-linguistic influence from L1 English, both L2 Spanish and French learners are expected to experience difficulties with vowel quality in non-prominent syllables and with prominent-to-non-prominent vowel duration ratios (Hypothesis 2). Both groups of learners performed two reading tasks (carrier sentences and passage). Auditory and acoustic analyses of the data support Hypothesis 1. As concerns Hypothesis 2, both groups of learners differed from the controls in the realization of vowel quantity and, to a lesser degree, unstressed vowel centralization. These findings suggest that learners may achieve high levels of accuracy when learning a prosodic system similar to their L1. At the same time, acquiring the phonetics of L2 prominence proves more challenging, even for advanced learners.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 2012 Second Language Research Forum: Building Bridges between Disciplines
edited by Ryan T. Miller, Katherine I. Martin, Chelsea M. Eddington, Ashlie Henery, Nausica Marcos Miguel, Alison M. Tseng, Alba Tuninetti, and Daniel Walter
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Printed edition: $290.00