Second-language Knowledge Affects Third-Language Acquisition: L2 Spanish Status Effects in the Phonological Acquisition of L3 French Rhotics

Michael Ward

BA ’19

My thesis explores the interacting effects of first-language (L1) and second-language (L2) knowledge on the acquisition of a third language (L3). I explore the competing effects of L1 and L2 influences by considering the role of the L2 status hypothesis, whereby a speaker’s L2 overrides the possible effects of an L1 during L3 acquisition. Specifically, I consider the acquisition of the rhotic phoneme /r/ by L3-French learners who are L1 speakers of English and are advanced L2 learners of Spanish. If L2 status overrides L1 knowledge, L3-French learners will transfer their L2-Spanish /r/ into French, rather than their L1-English /r/. In order to collect speech data, I designed a code-switching experiment whereby learners have to code-switch mid-sentence between their different languages (e.g. English-to-French, Spanish-to-French). This methodology allows for an assessment of whether L1-English or the L2-Spanish has more influence on L3-French pronunciation. Altogether, my thesis will render the most detailed analysis of the patterns of phonetic influence that occur during L3 acquisition studied thus far.

Library Mentor: Pam MacKintosh