Speech Prosody 2008

Campinas, Brazil
May 6-9, 2008

L2 Stress Perception: The Reliance on Different Acoustic Cues

Qian Wang

Department of Linguistics, University of Victoria, Canada

Second language learners of English often experience difficulties in English lexical stress perception because of prosodic transfer of their first language (L1). It has thus been hypothesized that the problem of Chinese learners with English stress arises from tonal transfer. However, little research has been devoted to the investigation of the phonetic details of second language (L2) stress perception. The present research focused on Chinese L2 learners of English. Their reliance on the three acoustic cues, F0, intensity and duration, is compared against a baseline of native English speakers, in terms of English stress perception of manipulated nonsense tokens. The results show that while all three cues have significant effects on stress perception for native English speakers, only F0 has a decisive effect on Chinese learners’ stress judgments. This study suggests that there is transfer of reliance on F0 in the acquisition of L2 English stress, rather than transfer of tone at the phonological level.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Wang, Qian (2008): "L2 stress perception: the reliance on different acoustic cues", In SP-2008, 635-638.