Date of Award

Winter 5-3-2016

Thesis Access

Open Access Honors Thesis

Degree Name



Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Faculty Advisor

Martha Ratliff


Acquisition of a second language can be a challenging task because no two languages are alike in their structure, syllabification, pronunciation, rhythm, etc. Also, after speaking one language for any amount of time, the speaker becomes accustomed to the specific qualities of that language; therefore, learning to speak another language takes extra effort because it is essentially rewiring the brain to think differently in many ways. One important element of language is prosody, or the patterns of stress and intonation in language (Dilley et al 237). The subsector of prosody that is to be studied is rhythm, explicitly isochrony and stress timing. Isochrony can be defined as the postulate that morphological stresses occur at nearly equal intervals in language (Dilley et al 237). Though there is not clear evidence to support this concept, there is evidence that languages have individual natural rhythms. A close comparison of multiple languages will show that some rhythms are based on syllable timing, while others are timed around stress, and still others do not consistently fit either of these models. This study compares the differences in rhythm and stress between syllable-timed and stress-timed languages and the effect these differences have on second language acquisition.