Convergence of L1 and L2 speech rhythm in Cantonese-English bilingual speakers

Wai Ling Law, Olga Dmitrieva, Alexander Francis


Previous production studies suggest that first language (L1) speech rhythm can influence second language (L2) speech rhythm, but it remains unclear if the effect is bi-directional, including the influence from L2 to L1. It is also not known how L2 proficiency and amount of L2 use may modulate the interaction between L1 and L2 speech rhythm. Therefore, this study investigated speech rhythm in Cantonese and English productions by twenty native Cantonese-English bilinguals living in Hong Kong. Participants produced segmental near homophones in each language on different days. The rhythm of their Cantonese and English speech was quantified using acoustic measures and the effect of L2 proficiency and use was examined using a detailed language use questionnaire. Results showed that participants with higher English proficiency and use demonstrated rhythmical properties of speech suggesting convergence between L1 and L2 rhythm characteristics. However, when comparing the high and low proficiency groups within each language, the rhythmical properties of Cantonese or English speech were not significantly different. These results support the hypothesis that the convergence pattern reported for L1 and L2 segments extends to the rhythmical properties of L1 and L2, but the effect is not strong enough to determine the direction of influence.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-112

Cite as: Law, W.L., Dmitrieva, O., Francis, A. (2020) Convergence of L1 and L2 speech rhythm in Cantonese-English bilingual speakers. Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020, 547-550, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-112.


@inproceedings{Law2020,
  author={Wai Ling Law and Olga Dmitrieva and Alexander Francis},
  title={{Convergence of L1 and L2 speech rhythm in Cantonese-English bilingual speakers}},
  year=2020,
  booktitle={Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020},
  pages={547--550},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-112},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-112}
}