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The Acquisition of English stops by Saudi L2 Learners

Alanazi, Sami (2018) The Acquisition of English stops by Saudi L2 Learners. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Researchers have studied voice onset time (VOT) in a number of languages but there is a scarcity of research on the acquisition of VOT of English, particularly by adult Saudi learners, and on the VOT of Saudi Arabic. The current study aims to fill these gaps. At the same time, we aimed to assess whether key claims of Flege's Speech Learning Model (SLM) were supported by this kind of data. 31 adult advanced Saudi learners of English and 60 monolinguals (30 native English and 30 Arabic monolinguals) participated in this study. The VOTs of the voiced and voiceless stops were measured followed by three different vowels, in both isolated word and word in sentence contexts. The results show that the learners produced English voiceless stops with aspiration closer to Arabic than to the higher native English VOT values, and voiced stops with pre-voicing, similar to Arabic, rather than with native English short-lag VOT values. Context had an effect in English but vowel did not, while the reverse was true for the learners and Arabic native speakers. Overall, learners' acquisition was modest despite their level and exposure, in that they overwhelmingly resembled Arabic rather than English native speakers. Several hypotheses based on SLM expectations were not confirmed in an unqualified way. However, support was found for learners' phonetic categories being ‘deflected’ away from both L1 and L2 categories. All three groups produced longer positive VOT for aspirated than unaspirated or voiced plosives. All exhibited VOT increasing across places of articulation, front to back for the voiceless stops, but only English native speakers showed this clearly for the voiced stops. Length of residence in UK and daily use of English did not seem to affect nativelikeness of learner VOT.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PE English
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Language and Linguistics, Department of
Depositing User: Sami Alanazi
Date Deposited: 02 Feb 2018 11:51
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2018 11:51

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