Speech and Language Technology in Education (SLaTE 2013)

Grenoble, France
August 30-September 1, 2013

Underdifferentiation of English Lexical Stress Contrasts by L2 Taiwan Speakers

Chiu-yu Tseng (1), Chao-yu Su (1), Tanya Visceglia (2)

(1) Phonetics Lab, Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan
(2) Education Center for Humanities and Social Sciences, National Yang Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan

Learning the stress patterns of English words presents a challenge for L1 speakers from syllable-timed and/or tone languages. Realization of stress contrasts in previous studies has been measured in a variety of ways. This study adapts and extends PVI, a method generally used to measure duration as a property of speech rhythm, to compare F0 and amplitude contrasts across L1 and L2 production of stressed and unstressed syllables in English multisyllabic words. L1 North American English and L1 Taiwan-Mandarin English speech data were extracted from the AESOP-ILAS corpus. Results of acoustic analysis show that overall, stress contrasts were realized most robustly by L1 English speakers. A general pattern of contrast underdifferentiation was found in L2 speakers with respect to F0, duration and intensity, with the most striking difference found in F0. These results corroborate our earlier findings on L1 Mandarin speakers' production of on-focus/post-focus contrasts in their realization of English narrow focus. Taken together, these results demonstrate that underdifferentiation of prosodic contrasts at both the lexical and phrase levels is a major prosodic feature of Taiwan English; future research will determine whether it can also be found in the L2 English of other syllable-timed or tone language speakers.

Index Terms: L2 English, lexical stress, Taiwan Mandarin, underdifferentiation

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Tseng, Chiu-yu / Su, Chao-yu / Visceglia, Tanya (2013): "Underdifferentiation of English lexical stress contrasts by L2 taiwan speakers", In SLaTE-2013, 164-167.