Doctor of Philosophy
The purpose of the present thesis is to establish whether Flege’s “equivalence classification” (Flege, 1995, p. 239) operates in the same way in auditory imitation of an unfamiliar dialect as it does in second language (L2) acquisition of speech. In order to do so, this study investigates how Andalusian Spanish speakers imitate assibilated rhotics produced in Ecuadorian Spanish. Despite substantial growth in interest in D2 phonological acquisition in later years (e.g., Babel, 2009; Nielsen, 2011), little research has been done to determine whether the mechanisms that underlie the production of L2 are also responsible for the auditory imitation of an unfamiliar dialect. Ecuadorian Spanish is characterized by assibilated and fricative rhotics (e.g., Lipski, 1994), whereas trills and taps are the main rhotics present in Andalusian Spanish (e.g., Blecua Falgueras, 2001). The Andalusian variety may include sibilants as allophonic variants of the affricates, as in [tʃ] → [ʃ] (e.g., Carbonero, 1982, 2001). In this study, 31 highly educated Sevillian Andalusian Spanish speakers were recorded. The participants completed imitation tasks, reading tasks, and a background questionnaire. This thesis contributes to our understanding of the mechanisms involved in early stages of auditory imitation of an unfamiliar dialect and assesses the effect of linguistic and extralinguistic factors in the production of the Ecuadorian assibilated rhotics. In all, I conclude that the similarity of the patterns found in the production of L2 and D2 suggests that equivalence classification does operate in a similar way in both cases.
Summary for Lay Audience
This study investigates whether the same processes that enable second language (L2) acquisition, also operate in the auditory imitation of an unfamiliar dialect. Specifically, it examines the imitation of a particular kind of “r” sound that has a “hissing” sound in Ecuadorian Spanish spoken by Andalusian speakers from Seville. While these sounds are common across many of the varieties of Spanish, they do not characterize Andalusian Spanish. This study involved 31 speakers of Andalusian Spanish from Seville. The participants completed imitation tasks, reading tasks, and a background questionnaire. The findings were compared to a previous study of the L2 acquisition on these “r” sounds by English-speaking learners of Mexican Spanish and suggest that auditory imitation of an unfamiliar dialect and L2 speech learning operate in a similar fashion.
Ruiz-Peña, Maria de la Esperanza, "The Imitation of Ecuadorian Assibilated Rhotics by Naïve Andalusian Speakers from Seville" (2021). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 7782.
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