15.3364, Diss: Language Acquisition: Nguyen: Prosodic Transfer...

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LINGUIST List: Vol-15-3364. Thu Dec 02 2004. ISSN: 1068 - 4875.

Subject: 15.3364, Diss: Language Acquisition: Nguyen: Prosodic Transfer...

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Date: 23-Nov-2004
From: Thu Nguyen < thunguyen at uq.edu.au >
Subject: Prosodic Transfer: The Tonal Constraints on Vietnamese Acquisition of English Stress and Rhythm

-------------------------Message 1 ----------------------------------
Date: Thu, 02 Dec 2004 09:55:41
From: Thu Nguyen < thunguyen at uq.edu.au >
Subject: Prosodic Transfer: The Tonal Constraints on Vietnamese Acquisition of English Stress and Rhythm

Institution: University of Queensland
Program: Linguistics Program
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2004

Author: Thu Thi Anh Nguyen

Dissertation Title: Prosodic Transfer: The Tonal Constraints on Vietnamese
Acquisition of English Stress and Rhythm

Linguistic Field(s): Language Acquisition

Dissertation Director(s):
John Ingram

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation investigates the constraints of tonal features on
Vietnamese production and perception of English stress and rhythm. In order
to pursue the aims of this study, seven main experiments were carried out
to examine five prosodic phenomena: (1) Prosodic cues for Compound-Phrasal
contrasts in Vietnamese vs. English, (2) Vietnamese production and
perception of three English stress patterns, (3) tonal constraints on the
perception of English stress, (4) Vietnamese production of lexically
stressed vs. unstressed contrasts, and (5) Vietnamese production of English
stress timing.

The results of this study showed that:

(1) Native and non-native speakers used different strategies, optimally
suited to their respective first language phonologies for identifying
English stress contrasts. Native speakers of English employed a combination
of four acoustic parameters: pitch, intensity, duration and vowel quality
in realization of stress contrasts. By contrast, Vietnamese learners showed
tonal transfer effects in their realization of the English stress contrasts
in their reliance mainly on pitch and intensity and insensitivity to
duration cues.

(2) Vietnamese learners make perceptual reference to the phonetic
categories of their L1 tonal system in the perception of English stress.
The perceptual tonal transfer was found to be constrained by pitch levels
and the segmental composition of the syllables.

(3) Vietnamese learners transferred the syllable-timing feature into their
English rhythmic production, indicated by the lack of compression of
stressed syllable in polysyllabic words or stressed feet, lack of reduction
of weak syllables, and the inappropriate pausing patterns at word boundaries.

In general, the results of this study showed that Vietnamese learners
transfer L1 prosodic properties into their L2 English at both perception
and production levels, especially at the initial stage of language
acquisition. Learners make reference to and use the same acoustic features
that are active in both languages (e.g., pitch, intensity) to perceive and
encode on their L2 speech. By contrast, the acoustic parameters that are
inactive in L1 (e.g., duration, vowel quality) fail to be recognized and
realized in L2 speech. Nevertheless, the advanced speakers' ability to make
use of timing parameters to a better extent than beginners in both
perception and production (e.g., to compress the compound words and
stressed syllables in polysyllabic words, to reduce unstressed vowels),
indicates that these can be improved by speakers' experience in the
language. This suggests that at the initial stage of L2 sound acquisition
learners automatically develop a perceptual bias that reflects the relative
frequencies of the various acoustic cues in their L1; i.e., cue reliance
depends on cue reliability (Boersma, 1997, Boersma and Hayes, 2000) and
that the improvement in the perception and production of L2 acoustic cues
reflects the availability of these cues in the target language. In other
words, with more exposure to the L2 language environment, learners are
gradually receptive to the L2 acoustic cues and able to realize them in
their production.

LINGUIST List: Vol-15-3364

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