The present longitudinal study describes and categorizes the primary changes in L2 Spanish intonation over time by 11 learners studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina for one academic semester. Via the autosegmental metrical model of analysis, this dissertation classifies intonational contours for absolute interrogatives and declarative statements at the beginning and end of the semester in a variety of speech styles. It also isolates extralinguistic factors, such as attitudes and degree of social interaction, that promote or hinder acquisition of Spanish intonational norms. Results show that learner absolute interrogative intonation is considerably different from that of their native Buenos Aires Spanish-speaking peers. At the beginning of the semester, the learner contour is classified as L*+H L* H%, which is marked by a final rising F0 movement. This contrasts with the native Buenos Aires Spanish preference L+H* L+¡H* L%, which is most notable for a final falling F0 contour. By the end of the semester, 9 of the 11 learners continue to produce the non-native-like rising intonation in all speech contexts. However, two learners--Eve and Samantha--begin to approximate native norms by producing an interrogative contour characterized here as L*+H L*+H L% in all speech contexts. The learner declarative contour changes very little over time, regardless of speech context. It is analyzed as L*+H L* L%. All 11 learners produce this contour at the beginning and end of the semester. However, Eve and Samantha periodically demonstrate a handful of native-like declarative intonational characteristics when speaking in the informal speech contexts, such as the long fall melody (Kaisse, 2001), early prenuclear peak alignment, and low phrase tones. The analysis of extralinguistic factors reveals that the learners developed generally favorable attitudes towards porteños, which might promote acquisition of native intonational norms. However, learner exposure to the target language was limited by sporadic and superficial interaction with native speakers. Eve and Samantha, the learners who evidenced the most change in intonation over time, stood out from the rest of the learners by developing more robust, supportive relationships with native Spanish-speaking contacts.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2014. Major: Hispanic and Luso Literatures, Cultures & Linguistics. Advisor: Timothy Face. 1 computer file (PDF); xix, 266 pages.
The L2 Acquisition of Buenos Aires Spanish Intonation During a Study Abroad Semester.
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