Prosodic disambiguation by Chinese EFL learners in a cooperative game task

Yuanyuan Zhang, Hongwei Ding, Peter Zelchenko, Xin Cui, Yi Lin, Yuqing Zhan, Hui Zhang


In this study, a game-based production experiment was adopted to examine the prosodic realization of syntactically ambiguous sentences by Chinese learners of English as a foreign language (EFL hereafter). 20 Chinese undergraduates and 10 native speakers of American English participated in this experiment. Subjects followed the guides in pictures and instructed listeners to move objects on the computer screen by using the critical instructions with prepositional attachment sentences (PP-attachment hereafter). In all, 10 pairs of ambiguous PP-attachment sentences that might refer to one situation or another were adopted. It was found that both the native speakers and Chinese EFL learners used pre-boundary lengthening and pause to distinguish the alternative meanings of the ambiguous PP-attachment sentences. While native speakers also showed domain-initial strengthening which may be related to the length of previous phrase, and greater pre-boundary lengthening and longer pause than the learners. In addition, native speakers displayed pitch reset at the prosodic boundary, indicating a pitch declination of the utterances. However, the learners might not consistently use pitch reset at the prosodic boundary.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-198

Cite as: Zhang, Y., Ding, H., Zelchenko, P., Cui, X., Lin, Y., Zhan, Y., Zhang, H. (2018) Prosodic disambiguation by Chinese EFL learners in a cooperative game task. Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018, 979-983, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-198.


@inproceedings{Zhang2018,
  author={Yuanyuan Zhang and Hongwei Ding and Peter Zelchenko and Xin Cui and Yi Lin and Yuqing Zhan and Hui Zhang},
  title={Prosodic disambiguation by Chinese EFL learners in a cooperative game task},
  year=2018,
  booktitle={Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018},
  pages={979--983},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-198},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-198}
}