Speech Prosody 2012

Shanghai, China
May 22-25, 2012

A Study on College Non-English Majors' Acquisition of English Stress Placement

Xiaoxiang Chen, Hongmin Zhang, Xiaojing Xie

Hunan University, Hunan Province, China

This study is to investigate the acquisition of the English stress system by Chinese adult second language learners whose native language is of a different type from that of English. In the present study, twenty college non-English majors participated in three tasks. Three factors or exactly syllabic structure, lexical class, and stress patterns of known words contributing to the acquisition of English stress system were investigated. First, the participants produced 40 nonwords of different syllabic structures as nouns and verbs in two sentence frames. Second, they were asked to indicate their preference for the first or second syllable stress on the same 40 nonwords. Last, they were asked to write down the real English words they considered to be phonologically similar to the 40 nonwords. The results indicate that syllables with long vowels are likely to attract more stress than syllables with short vowels. Bi-syllabic nouns are likely to receive more first syllable stress than verbs. Analysis of variance on the production and perception data indicated that both syllabic structure and lexical class have an effect on stress placement. In the regression analysis of the three factors, all have significant and unique contribution to the stress placement, with stress pattern of phonological similar real words having the greatest influence. The results showed that phonological theories on English stress placement should consider multiple, competing, probabilistic factors in accounts of main stress placement including syllabic structure, lexical class, and stress patterns of phonologically similar words.

Index Terms: stress placement; syllabic structure; lexical class; phonological similar words

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Chen, Xiaoxiang / Zhang, Hongmin / Xie, Xiaojing (2012): "A study on college non-English majors' acquisition of English stress placement", In SP-2012, 370-373.