Voice onset time (VOT) of L3 Spanish /ptk/ by multilingual heritage speakers of Ukrainian and Polish







This study provides an acoustic analysis of voice onset time (VOT) of voiceless stops /ptk/ in Spanish, produced by heritage speakers (HSs) of Ukrainian and of Polish who are English-dominant and beginner or intermediate learners of Spanish as a third language (L3). Given that both Ukrainian and Polish, like Spanish and unlike English, are characterized by short-lag VOT, data were collected from six Ukrainian HSs and 11 Polish HSs in their heritage language (HL), in English, and in Spanish to compare potential effects of the HL on L3 VOT production. VOT was analyzed in three task types. The goals were: 1) to determine whether VOT values produced in Spanish by Ukrainian and Polish HSs are more reflective of VOTs in the HL or in English, and 2) to determine the effect of task type on VOT. Data show that Ukrainian and Polish HSs’ VOTs in Spanish are shorter than those of L2 Spanish learners whose L1 is English, indicating a HL rather than dominant language influence on L3 VOT. Results suggest that the most crucial factors in L3 phonological acquisition are: 1) structural similarity between HL and L3, and 2) L3 proficiency (not language dominance). VOT was also affected by task type: like L1 Spanish speakers, VOT of Ukrainian HSs increases as task formality increases. This paper fills research gaps in HL and L3 phonetics/phonology as to the effects of a HL on the acquisition of subsequent sound systems in adulthood.

Author Biographies

Margaryta Bondarenko, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Margaryta Bondarenko is a product developer at McGraw Hill, where she applies her research experience to the development of motivating, dynamic, and culturally-authentic introductory and intermediate Spanish programs, helping students build confidence and achieve success in their language-learning journey. Her interests include phonetics, phonology, second and third language acquisition, applied linguistics, heritage languages, language pedagogy, educational technology, e-learning, and gamified learning.

Brianna Butera, University of Memphis

Brianna Butera is an assistant professor of Spanish in the Department of World Languages and Literatures at the University of Memphis. She specializes in pronunciation variation across the Spanish-speaking world and measuring language variability using acoustic analysis. Her most recent research focuses on variation in the Spanish of heritage speakers and inclusive pedagogy in the heritage speaker classroom.

Rajiv Rao, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Rajiv Rao is an associate professor of Spanish in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and the current Director of the Language Sciences Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His primary research streams deal with segmental and suprasegmental phonetics and phonology as they pertain to heritage speakers and Afro-Hispanic varieties, among other areas related to sociolinguistics and language variation and change. He is also interested in the second language acquisition of Spanish phonetics and phonology and in approaches to teaching Spanish pronunciation.



How to Cite

Bondarenko, M., Butera, B., & Rao, R. (2022). Voice onset time (VOT) of L3 Spanish /ptk/ by multilingual heritage speakers of Ukrainian and Polish. EuroAmerican Journal of Applied Linguistics and Languages, 9(1), 28–51. https://doi.org/10.21283/2376905X.15.1.225



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