L1 Effects on L2 comprehension of focus-to-prosody mapping: A comparison between Cantonese and Dutch learners of English

Haoyan Ge, Aoju Chen, Virginia Yip


This study investigates how L2 learners use prosody in the comprehension of focus in sentences with the focus particle only and how L1 modulates L2 comprehension, through a cross-linguistic comparison between Cantonese- and Dutch-learners of English. The realization of focus is language specific: prosody is the primary device to encode focus in Dutch and English whereas it is less important than other linguistic devices in Cantonese to mark focus. In a comprehension experiment, participants were presented with question-answer dialogues and were asked to judge whether the answer made sense for the question in a certain context. The results revealed significant differences between the L2 groups: the Cantonese learners showed similar percentage of ‘yes’ judgments and reaction times (RTs) across the conditions regardless of prosody and focus position, whereas the Dutch learners, like the native English controls, showed a significantly lower percentage of ‘yes’ judgments and longer RTs for answers with inappropriate prosody than those with appropriate prosody. Our findings reveal L1 effects on L2 comprehension of the mapping between focus and prosody.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-38

Cite as: Ge, H., Chen, A., Yip, V. (2018) L1 Effects on L2 comprehension of focus-to-prosody mapping: A comparison between Cantonese and Dutch learners of English. Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018, 187-191, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-38.


@inproceedings{Ge2018,
  author={Haoyan Ge and Aoju Chen and Virginia Yip},
  title={L1 Effects on L2 comprehension of focus-to-prosody mapping: A comparison between Cantonese and Dutch learners of English},
  year=2018,
  booktitle={Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018},
  pages={187--191},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-38},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-38}
}