Speech Prosody 2006

Dresden, Germany
May 2-5, 2006

Prosodic Effects in Parsing Early vs. Late Closure Sentences by Second Language Learners and Native Speakers

Hyekyung Hwang, Amy J. Schafer

Department of Linguistics, University of Hawai'i, USA

The Informative Boundary Hypothesis (IBH: [4]) claims that a prosodic boundary is interpreted relative to preceding boundaries. This study tests predictions of the IBH with Korean learners of English (L2ers) and English native speakers (L1ers) in a prosody experiment on the resolution of an Early vs. Late Closure ambiguity in spoken English sentences. A control experiment assessed and controlled for English morpho-syntactic knowledge in the main experiment. The main experiment presented the syntactically ambiguous portion of sentences in a forced-choice continuation-selection task. The results showed that 1) Korean L2ers at all levels used relative boundary size to disambiguate sentences, like L1ers; 2) intonation phrase boundaries provided stronger evidence for syntactic boundaries than intermediate phrase boundaries, especially for the L2ers; and 3) the IBH's 3-way categorization of relative boundary size - larger/same-size/smaller - appears insufficient for this syntactic structure.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Hwang, Hyekyung / Schafer, Amy J. (2006): "Prosodic effects in parsing early vs. late closure sentences by second language learners and native speakers", In SP-2006, paper 091.