Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)




Anya Lunden

Committee Members

Leslie Cochrane

Kaitlyn Harrigan

Jonathan Arries


Word-level stress, which occurs on a specific syllable of each word, aids lexical access and helps distinguish word boundaries. Three correlates are most often used in languages to denote stress: pitch, vowel duration, and intensity. However, languages differ on which of these correlates are most important or necessary at all: for Spanish, pitch is the primary correlate, but for English, duration is more important. The goal of this investigation was to determine the differences in perception of duration, pitch, or both together for bilingual speakers of English and Spanish in countries with differing dominant languages. Half of the participants (native English speakers who have some level of Spanish knowledge) were tested at the College of William and Mary, and half (native Spanish speakers who had some level of English knowledge) were tested at La Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas in Lima, Peru. Both groups were prompted in two sections – Spanish and English – to determine the location of stress in words with one syllable altered in duration, pitch, or both. Both groups responded best to the combination of correlates rather than one correlate on its own. Response scores for each language section did not differ significantly between groups, but the groups showed a notable difference in improvement as amounts of each correlate increased. Both groups had more correct responses when the stress was in antepenultimate, rather than penultimate, position. This experiment can contribute to the field of language acquisition research and can eventually be applied to second language education methods.

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Creative Commons License
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