Speech and Language Technology in Education (SLaTE 2013)

Grenoble, France
August 30-September 1, 2013

Prosodic Chunking of German as a Foreign Language

Hansjörg Mixdorff (1), Hamurabi Gamboa Rosales (2)

(1) Department of Computer Science, Beuth University Berlin, Germany
(2) Unidad Académica de Ingeniería Eléctrica, Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas, Mexico

This study concerns the perception of boundaries and accented syllables by native German subjects as compared to foreign non-speakers and learners of the language at different proficiency levels. To this effect six-syllable sequences excised from a context of three poly-syllabic words of German were presented to participants who had to select the syllables they perceived as accented, as well as the locations of word boundaries. Results show that German native subjects perform well at the word boundary task, but mark correctly less than two thirds of accented syllables. Chinese and Mexican non-learners still detect a considerable number of word boundaries and accented syllables. Learners of German show improvement at the task with growing experience though they often pick legal subword units that do not necessarily form a plausible sequence. Correlation analysis of factors for syllable and boundary selection performed for non-learners and German subjects – as expected – shows considerably different behaviours. Whereas the boundary location does not influence the Germans' decision on the accent location, Chinese and Mexican non-learners show a preference to mark an accent when the syllable is followed by a word boundary. We also found that the acoustic properties of the syllables had a larger impact on the non-learners' decisions since they could not operate on linguistic knowledge of German.

Index Terms: Prominence, accent and boundary perception, L2 learning

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Mixdorff, Hansjörg / Gamboa Rosales, Hamurabi (2013): "Prosodic chunking of German as a foreign language", In SLaTE-2013, 153-158.