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How Different Do I Sound?:

An Acoustic Analysis of Longitudinal Data from a Heritage Spanish Classroom
Wed, 11/18/2015 - 4:30pm
594 Van Hise Hall
Speaker and Affiliation: 
Rajiv Rao, Assistant Professor, Department of Spanish & Portuguese

Within the last decade, researchers have begun to explore the phonetic and phonological features that may contribute to a "heritage accent" in Spanish (among other heritage languages). However, the potential effects of heritage speakers taking courses tailored to them on their sound system remains relatively ignored. This presentation discusses an acoustic analysis of pre- and post-semester narrative data coming from six heritage speakers of Spanish. At the segmental level, voiced and voiceless stop consonants (i.e., /bdg/ and /ptk/, respectively) and rhotics (i.e., "r-like" sounds) are examined, while at the suprasegmental level, mean pitch, pitch range and speech rate are analyzed. When comparing each speaker's data across time, the results show that stop consonants are generally produced following the most commonly noted distribution of native monolingual speakers, while rhotics display tremendous variation at both points in time, with trills overall occurring at low frequencies. At the suprasegmental level, speakers with less overall exposure to Spanish exhibit higher mean pitch, a wider pitch range and a faster rate of speech in the post-semester task. The remainder of the presentation explores the implications of the findings and how they complement and expand upon variables included in previous work on heritage Spanish phonetics and phonology.

Department of Spanish & Portuguese