This study analyzes the production of Voice Onset Time (VOT) of natural Spanish-English bilinguals. VOT is a linguistic characteristic that measures the amount of aspiration occurring after the release of a stop consonant. In terms of VOT, English stop consonants differ substantially from their Spanish equivalents. This study analyzes whether or not natural bilinguals produce VOTs that approximate VOTs of monolingual speakers of each language. Participants completed two surveys to quantify their linguistic dominance in English and Spanish. They were then recorded performing similar speaking tasks in both languages. The conclusions show that natural bilinguals do not produce their English or Spanish VOTs within the monolingual norms defined in previous studies. If conclusions were to be drawn solely from this data, then the participants would theoretically have no monolingual-like language production of VOT. There is also no correlation between language dominance scores and production of VOT. These results support the conclusion that a natural bilingual is not the equivalent of two natural monolingual speakers. Significant correlations exist between VOT production and gender, age of learning English, and amount of time spent watching TV in each language. Another interesting conclusion is that many of the participants score more Spanish-dominant when a survey is given in Spanish and more English-dominant when the very same survey is given in English. This shows that even the language of a survey may skew responses slightly.



College and Department

Humanities; Spanish and Portuguese



Date Submitted


Document Type





Phonetics, Spanish-English Bilinguals, VOT, Language Contact, Spanish in the US