Degree Name



Communication Disorders


David O. McKay School of Education

Defense Date


Publication Date


First Faculty Advisor

Shawn L Nissen

First Faculty Reader

Kathryn Cabbage

Honors Coordinator

David L McPherson


electropalatography, variability, second language, L2, intra-speaker variability


Electropalatography (EPG) is a biofeedback system that tracks tongue contact with the palate during speech. The current study uses EPG data to examine the variability that occurs in speech production for individuals speaking a second language (L2). Five native German speakers and twelve native English speakers learning German as a second language were asked to produce the fricatives [ç], [x], and /ʃ/ in various linguistic contexts. Variability in center of maximal contact across the anterior-posterior dimension (“Center of Gravity” – COG) and duration for L2 production across sound type, L2 production across task type, L2 production across subject, and native language (L1) vs L2 productions was examined. The COG variability in L2 speakers was significant as a function of sound type, task type, subject, and sound type by task type. Duration variability in L2 speakers was significant as a factor of sound type and task type. L2 variability across task type generally increased as task type increased in complexity. The COG and duration variability were not found to be significant across language status. However, the COG variability was found to be significant between languages as a function of sound type. L1 speakers displayed a lower COG variability for the fricatives [ç] and [x], whereas L2 speakers displayed a lower COG variability for the fricative /ʃ/. Further research is needed to investigate the nature of L2 variability, but it is anticipated that the current thesis will contribute to a better understanding of the L2 learning process.