Speech Prosody 2008

Campinas, Brazil
May 6-9, 2008

Prosodic Transfer in L2 Speech: Evidence from Phrasal Prominence and Rhythm

Emily Nava, Maria Luisa Zubizarreta

University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

The current study examines focus and Nuclear Pitch Accent in the second language (L2) speech of Spanish speakers of English. We begin with a discussion of the distinct algorithms said to account for Nuclear Stress (NS) at work in Spanish and English. We then match the theoretical claims with experimental data on the placement of Nuclear Accent for various focus constructions from native speakers of English, followed by a contrasting set of data from L2 speakers. However, the L2 speakers are not a homogenous group, and indeed the production behavior across proficiency groups gives rise to the hypothesis that the acquisition of nuclear pitch accent is hierarchical in nature: learners acquire anaphoric deaccenting before nuclear stress. We conclude with a discussion of further data that supports the notion that phrasal prosodic patterns might be related to some fundamental rhythmic difference between the two languages.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Nava, Emily / Zubizarreta, Maria Luisa (2008): "Prosodic transfer in L2 speech: evidence from phrasal prominence and rhythm", In SP-2008, 335-338.