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Stress Assignment in the Spanish and English interlanguages

Jorge Enrique Gonzalez, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The objective of this dissertation is to determine how and to what extent the factors involved in primary stress assignment in nouns interact in the Spanish and English interlanguages. Both transfer and developmental factors are studied. The former include: L1 stress rule application in the L2 and L1 cognate stress transfer to the L2. The developmental factors considered are: L2 stress rule application and knowledge of the L2 marked stress. The analysis is based on Harris and Hayes's theoretical descriptions for the Spanish and English stress systems, respectively, and on Dresher and Kaye's parametric model. The sample consisted of 58 University of Massachusetts' students of Spanish: 30 beginners and 28 from the intermediate level; and 64 Simón Bolívar University's students of English: 32 from each level. The general hypothesis, according to which in the Spanish and English interlanguages' stress assignment of nouns, transfer and developmental factors interact in such a way that the former are more decisive at the beginning levels and the latter, at the intermediate, was proven. It was also found that in the first stages, learners rely on phonological rather than morphological information in finding out the second language stress system. In the light of the Theory of Principles and Parameters, the results of this study show that L2 learners can reset their parameter values: from the unmarked to the marked setting and vice versa. Finally, it is concluded that language idiosyncratic properties which lie outside the core grammar, such as: language specific conditions, prespecified metrical information in the lexicon, morphological considerations, etc. require systematic and intensive instruction and practice, since they constitute the main sources of error.

Subject Area

Linguistics|Bilingual education|Multicultural Education

Recommended Citation

Gonzalez, Jorge Enrique, "Stress Assignment in the Spanish and English interlanguages" (2001). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3027202.