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  • Lieke van Maastricht (a1), Emiel Krahmer (a2), Marc Swerts (a2) and Pilar Prieto (a3)

This study examines the acquisition process of speech rhythm in Dutch learners of Spanish (DLS) and Spanish learners of Dutch (SLD) at different proficiency levels to determine whether learning direction affects the success of rhythm acquisition in a foreign language (L2). Analyses of lengthening effects showed that the two learner groups followed different developmental paths in their acquisition of accentual and final lengthening: Both groups showed transfer effects from the L1, but while the DLS systematically approached their target until attainment, the SLD showed more variability in their development. In addition, syllable structure complexity affected L2 rhythm acquisition, and to a substantially larger extent for the SLD compared to the DLS. The results support a model of L2 rhythm acquisition in which learning direction is included as a factor, and that allows for the interaction of various language-specific properties that contribute to speech rhythm, like syllable structure complexity.

Corresponding author
*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Lieke van Maastricht, Radboud University, Postbus 9102, 6500 HC Nijmegen, Netherlands. E-mail:
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This research was made possible through grants from the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds (40005750/HEV/ILE), the Jo Kolk fund, the Grup de Recerca Consolidat 2017 (SGR _ 971) and Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (FFI2015-6653). We thank Gerdientje Oggel, Johanna Sattler, Arthur Verbiest, and Astrid van Winden for their help during data collection. We gratefully acknowledge Joan Borràs-Comes, Elena Kireva, Mart Lubbers, and Paolo Mairano for their help with data analyses, and Núria Esteve-Gibert and Constantijn Kaland for coding part of the data to test coding reliability. Finally, thanks are due to three anonymous reviewers for their helpful input and feedback on the content of this manuscript. Any errors that remain are our own.

Preliminary versions of the first two studies of this paper were presented at the Speech Prosody conference in May 2016 in Boston and at the New Sounds conference in June 2016 in Aarhus, Denmark, respectively. The current paper includes a more detailed theoretical background and description of the experimental methods, more extensive discussions of the results, and more advanced statistical analyses over the complete dataset.

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Studies in Second Language Acquisition
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