Focus prosody in Japanese-English early bilinguals: A pilot study

Albert Lee, Yi Xu


Typologically, some languages mark narrow focus with ‘post-focus compression’ (PFC) whereas others do not. For those which do, PFC is easily lost through bilingualism, at both societal and individual levels. At the societal level, when in contact with a –PFC language (e.g. Southern Min), a +PFC language can lose this prosodic feature (e.g. Taiwan Mandarin); at the individual level, for bilingual speakers of a +PFC (e.g. Mandarin) and a –PFC (e.g. Southern Min) language, age plays a role in whether they can produce PFC in Mandarin or not. In the latter case, however, the effect of contact and the apparent role of age cannot be teased apart. To better understand how individual characteristics (e.g. age) affect PFC realisation, this study analysed Japanese-English bilinguals, whose two languages are both +PFC. We recruited five early bilingual speakers to complete a speech production task to see if they would produce PFC after narrow focus in Japanese. Results showed that, the biracial speakers living in the United Kingdom manifested clear evidence of PFC, whereas another ethnic Japanese speaker who grew up in Japan but identified herself as English-dominant failed to produce PFC. The implications of these findings are discussed.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-172

Cite as: Lee, A., Xu, Y. (2020) Focus prosody in Japanese-English early bilinguals: A pilot study. Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020, 843-847, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-172.


@inproceedings{Lee2020,
  author={Albert Lee and Yi Xu},
  title={{Focus prosody in Japanese-English early bilinguals: A pilot study}},
  year=2020,
  booktitle={Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020},
  pages={843--847},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-172},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-172}
}