Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Second Language Studies

First Advisor

Felice Coles

Second Advisor

Vance Schaffer

Third Advisor

Robyn Wright


University of Mississippi

Relational Format



This dissertation deals with the perception of the aspirated coda /s/ by Spanish L2 learners. Second language research, with some exceptions, focuses on whether L1English–L2 Spanish learners can perceive the aspirated variant, showing that only advanced learners with time spent in s-weakening regions succeed at the task. L2 studies about s-aspiration have yet to investigate the perception of the aspirated coda /s/ in different environments across actual phrases and sentences. This study focuses on the intelligibility of pairs of ambiguous phrases and sentences perceptually differentiated only by the aspirated coda /s/. Additionally, it investigates the prosodic stress´ influence on the perception of the s-aspirated phone within and between words. The population consisted of three groups of 20 L1 English-L2 Spanish students each. Data were collected employing a survey with four sections: a biographical information section, a perception task (intelligibility), a comprehensibility section, and an appreciation section. The analysis included descriptive and inferential statistics. The descriptive statistics consisted of percentages of correct and incorrect responses, biographical information, and appreciation ratings, while the statistical analysis comprised various tests in R, such as one-way ANOVA followed by pairwise t-tests (Bonferroni), logistic regressions, and a one-proportion z-test.

The results showed that language proficiency, level (beginner, advanced, and linguistics), environment, word set, and place for interaction contributed to the statistically significant perception of the aspirated coda /s/. Higher language proficiency and social interaction (social group) are sufficient for perceiving the aspirated coda /s/ in the within word set but not in the between word set. Furthermore, the time spent in Spanish-speaking regions variable did not contribute to perception, and it could not be compared with previous studies due to participants not having sufficient time in this regard. Additionally, the within word set environments were conducive to high perception accuracy, whereas the between word set environments were challenging for the task. The prosodic stress aided perception in the within word set since the two stressed environments received statistically significant scores. However, an unstressed environment, the unstressed word medial, also got statistically significant scores.



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