L2 English Rhythm in Read Speech by Chinese Students

Hongwei Ding, Xinping Xu

L2 English speech produced by Mandarin Chinese speakers is usually perceived to be intermediate between stress-timed and syllable-timed in rhythm. However, previous studies seldom employed comparable data of target language, source language and L2 interlanguage in one investigation, which may lead to discrepant results. Thus, in this study we conducted a contrastive investigation of 10 Chinese students and 10 native English speakers. We measured the rhythmic correlates in passage readings of Mandarin and L2 English produced by the native Chinese subjects, and those of English by the native British speakers. Comparison of the widely used rhythmic metrics %V, Δ C, Δ V, nPVI, rPVI, VarcoV, and VarcoC confirmed that Mandarin Chinese is a highly syllable-timed language. Results suggested that vowel-related metrics were better indexes to classify L2 English rhythm produced by Chinese speakers as being more syllable-timed than stress-timed. Analysis showed that vowel epenthesis, non-reduction of vowels, and no stressed/unstressed contrast could contribute to the auditory impression of syllable-timed rhythm of their L2 English. This investigation could shed some light on the Chinese accent of L2 English and provided support to facilitate the rhythmic acquisition of stress-timed languages for Chinese students.

DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2016-427

Cite as

Ding, H., Xu, X. (2016) L2 English Rhythm in Read Speech by Chinese Students. Proc. Interspeech 2016, 2696-2700.

author={Hongwei Ding and Xinping Xu},
title={L2 English Rhythm in Read Speech by Chinese Students},
booktitle={Interspeech 2016},