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Title:Aspects of Spanish Prosody and Their Carryover Into English: A Case Study of A Three Year Old
Author(s):Zuniga-Hill, Carmen Maria
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Educational Psychology
Abstract:Some aspects of Spanish prosody were examined and the way a Spanish-speaking three-year-old, Camila, carried them into English, while she was in the process of learning English as a second language, was studied. Camila was video- and audiotaped two times each week over a six month period in a wide variety of situations in her home and in her day care setting. Taping began six months after Camila's arrival when she still spoke Spanish almost exclusively, and ended at a point when she spoke English almost exclusively.
Specifically, three prosodic aspects of Camila's speech, which are also common in spoken adult Spanish in general--"bulges," "lilts," and "staccato-ness" were studied. These terms have no analogue in the literature but are used because they describe the essence of each observed phenomenon. A bulge is a slow, relaxed, deliberate rise and fall of pitch contour during a single vowel (syllable) of a word, always at the end of a phrase. A lilt is a pronounced, dramatic upsweep of the pitch contour, giving a lilting effect, which almost always occurs in final position in a phrase. Staccato-ness is a whole-sentence phenomenon. It is a tightly controlled, thin, nasal way of speaking, with a sharp, quick onset and cut-off at the beginning and end of each syllable, respectively. Data were analysed microanalytically, using hundreds of playbacks to "see" a bulge, a lilt, etc., arise out of a segment of natural, on-going behavior. Additionally, the concept of ethos, as defined by Bateson, was used to conceptualize the way in which the whole fabric of language and culture express themselves in these elements of Spanish prosody.
It was found that: (1) there is a partial carryover of (Spanish) bulges into English, and that bulges persist in high density (Spanish and English) speech at a statistically significant level over the duration of the study. Similarly, (2) (Spanish) lilts are partially carried over into English. However, unlike bulges, lilt production depends heavily on a highly developed rhythmic competence in Spanish. Because of this, and because the rhythmic functioning of English is completely different from Spanish, only few lilts were observed in Camila's English speech. Finally, (3) staccato-ness was found to affect about 20% of all of Camila's high density (Spanish and English) speech at the beginning of the study. However, this figure very rapidly dropped to about 1%. The rapidity of this decrease is perhaps due to the fact that staccato-ness, like lilts, depends on finely honed supra-segmental skills as well as on a specific consciousness (found in native Spanish-speaking adults), neither of which are very deeply embedded in Camila from a developmental aspect.
Issue Date:1981
Description:148 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1981.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8129574
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-12
Date Deposited:1981

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