Within the field of second language acquisition of phonology, the role of immersion experiences on language learners' pronunciation has recently become a topic of greater interest. While students of a foreign language with study abroad experience (one to six months) have shown relatively little progress in pronunciation gains, language learners group with extended immersion experience—approximately 24 months abroad—have demonstrated more native-like pronunciation. This study compares the pronunciation of L2 Spanish /u/ among native English speakers enrolled in the same third-year Spanish course who belong to two different groups based on the context of their previous language learning: extended immersion in a Spanish-speaking country or traditional classroom instruction. The effects of syllabic stress and speech task type on the pronunciation of these two groups are also examined. Acoustic data from participants' speech is used to conduct statistical analyses. Words and phrases are subject over time to a process called grammaticalization, especially those that are used frequently. This process causes a gradual shift from use as lexical items to use as grammatical devices. Semantic bleaching also occurs, which means that the earlier or original lexical content of a word or phrase is partially or completely lost. Verbs expressing the idea of possession are particularly susceptible to this type of change. The Spanish verb tener ('to have'), while still retaining its lexical content, has come to be used in constructions that do not represent the explicit idea of possession—they incorporate a bleached usage of the word. This alteration is evident in four construction types examined in this paper. These constructions all have three essential elements: a "possessor" argument, a "possessed" argument, and a third modifying component. The analyses of these constructions include templates that describe both their semantic content and their syntactic structure.



College and Department

Humanities; Spanish and Portuguese



Date Submitted


Document Type





Spanish, second language acquisition, immersion, pronunciation, vowels, Spanish, grammaticalization, semantic bleaching, construction, tener