Perception of double stress by Spanish learners of English

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A perception experiment required Spanish learners of English (NNLs) and native English listeners (NLs) to identify the position and relative prominence of stresses in polysyllabic English words and compounds. The results indicated that both groups recognized stress shift and lack of shift very accurately. The NLs showed a stronger tendency to perceive prominence shift in simple words than NNLs, who were more likely to hear simple words as containing one stress. For compounds, differences between listener groups were not significant. It was concluded that, in these experimental tasks, native competence did not provide a strong advantage for stress identification. This result may be partly due to differences in metalinguistic awareness between the English and Spanish participants.


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