The investigation of suprasegmental transfer by American learners of Japanese

Yuna Hiranuma


This research examines second language acquisition (SLA) of English speakers learning Japanese by investigating how acoustic features of the first language influence the learners’ pronunciation. Acoustic features concerned here are phonetic elements of word prominence. Beckman (1984) claims English is considered a stress-accent language in which prominence is indicated by the combination of pitch and loudness, whereas Japanese is a pitch- accent language in which prominence is solely indicated by pitch. Based on these studies, both pitch and loudness seem to appear in prominence of the learners’ pronunciation, whereas only pitch is involved in that of Japanese speakers’, which indicates phonetic transfer. The data consisted of recordings of ten Japanese words pronounced by six American learners and three native Japanese speakers. Pitch and loudness of all vowels in each word were measured using Praat. Correlation between the highest pitch and loudness within the words was examined to compare pronunciations between English and Japanese. The result showed that correlation between pitch and loudness in the learners’ pronunciation was higher than that in Japanese speakers’. This research contributes to the study of sound acquisition which is less common in SLA and helps learners of a pitch- accent language to become more proficient in pronunciation.


 DOI: 10.21437/ISAPh.2018-11

Cite as: Hiranuma, Y. (2018) The investigation of suprasegmental transfer by American learners of Japanese. Proc. ISAPh 2018 International Symposium on Applied Phonetics, 62-66, DOI: 10.21437/ISAPh.2018-11.


@inproceedings{Hiranuma2018,
  author={Yuna Hiranuma},
  title={{The investigation of suprasegmental transfer by American learners of Japanese}},
  year=2018,
  booktitle={Proc. ISAPh 2018 International Symposium on Applied Phonetics},
  pages={62--66},
  doi={10.21437/ISAPh.2018-11},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/ISAPh.2018-11}
}