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A Variationist Analysis of Second Language Spanish Trill Production

Authors
  • Daidone, Danielle1
  • Zahler, Sara2
  • 1 University of North Carolina Wilmington, USA , (United States)
  • 2 University at Albany, SUNY, USA , (United States)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics
Publisher
De Gruyter
Publication Date
May 11, 2021
Volume
14
Issue
1
Pages
1–37
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1515/shll-2021-2038
Source
De Gruyter
Keywords
License
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Abstract

The current study examines the production of the Spanish trill by advanced second language (L2) learners using a variationist approach. Findings indicate that learners produced less multiple occlusion trills than native speakers and their variation was not constrained by the same factors as native speakers. Phonetic context conditioned the use of the multiple occlusion variant for native speakers, whereas frequency and speaker sex conditioned this variation for learners, and in the opposite direction of effect as expected from previous native speaker research. Nevertheless, the majority of tokens produced by learners were other variants also produced by native speakers, and when the variation between native and non-native variants was examined, learners’ variation was conditioned not only by frequency, but also phonetic context. Some of the phonetic contexts in which learners produced non-native variants were comparable to those in which native speakers were least likely to produce the multiple occlusion trill, indicating that articulatory constraints governed variation in trill production similarly for both groups. Thus, although L2 learners do not exhibit native-like trill variation, they appear to be developing toward a more native-like norm. These insights provide support for adopting a multifaceted variationist approach to the study of L2 phonological variable structures.

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