THE PRODUCTION OF EMPHASIS BY SECOND LANGUAGE LEARNERS OF ARABIC
Aldamen, Hesham Abdel Karim
University of Kansas
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The purpose of this study was to examine the production of emphasis by American L2 learners of Arabic. Nineteen participants, 5 native speakers and 14 L2 learners participated in a production experiment in which they produced monosyllabic CVC pairs that were contrasted in terms of whether the initial consonant was plain or emphatic. The acoustic parameters that were investigated are VOT of voiceless stops, COG of fricatives, and the first three formant frequencies (F1-F3) of the target vowels. The results of the native speakers showed that VOT is a reliable acoustic cue of emphasis in Modern standard Arabic. The results also showed that vowels in the emphatic context have higher F1 and lower F2. As for F3, the results showed that vowels have higher F3 in the context of emphatic fricatives only. The results of the L2 learners showed that the L2 learners produced comparable VOT values to those of native Arabic speakers. The beginning learners did not differ from the intermediate learners on the VOT measure. The results also showed that the L2 learners produced a significantly lower F2 of the vowels in the emphatic context. The results of F2 also showed that the effect of emphasis was larger for /æ/ than /i/ and /u/; however, /i/ and /u/ did not differ from each other with regard to the effect of emphasis. Proficiency in Arabic played a role on the F2 measure; the intermediate learners tended to be more native-like than the beginning learners. As for F3, the results of the L2 learners unexpectedly showed that the beginning learners produced a higher F3 in the context of fricatives only.
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