Acquisition of prosodic marking of information status by Mandarin-speaking learners of English : Phonological vs. phonetic properties

Research output: Conference Papers (RGC: 31A, 31B, 32, 33)Abstractpeer-review

View graph of relations

Detail(s)

Original languageEnglish
Pages37
Publication statusPublished - May 2019

Conference

Title6th International Conference on English Pronunciation (EPIP 6)
LocationSs. Cyril and Methodius University
PlaceMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of
CitySkopje
Period17 - 18 May 2019

Abstract

Mennen (2007) differentiates phonological and phonetic properties in the acquisition of second language (L2) prosody and claims that acquisition of phonological properties of L2 prosody precedes acquisition of its phonetic properties. Some empirical studies (e.g., Mennen, 2007; Rognoni, 2014) have supported this claim with findings that learners tend to acquire phonological features of L2 prosody before they master the fine phonetic details.
The study reported here investigated the acquisition of phonological and phonetic features in prosodic marking of information status(broad focus, narrow focus, and given information) by Mandarin-speaking learners of English. Phonologically, broad focus and narrow focus in English are marked with prominence, while given information is marked with deaccentuation (Halliday, 1967; Ladd, 1996). Phonetically, narrow focus, broad focus and given information in English are marked with decreasing duration, F0 and intensity (Breen et al., 2010). One control group of 20 native English speakers and four groups of 80 Mandarin-speaking learners (each consisting of 20) at preliminary, lower intermediate, upper intermediate and advanced proficiency levels participated in this study by doing a reading task. In the task, the participants were asked to listen to a group of questions one by one and read the corresponding answer to each question according to the context. The participants were recorded individually, and three judges, two Mandarin-speaking phoneticians and one English-speaking naïve listener, analysed the recordings of the answer statements auditorily for prominence placement. Following the auditory analysis, all utterances with correct prominence placement were selected for acoustic analysis. Following Breen et al. (2010) and Mennen, Schaeffler and Dickie (2014), and considering the variation in sentence structure in the reading task, duration, average F0, maximum intensity, F0 range and intensity range of the stressed syllable in the target word under focus or as given information were extracted and measured against the syllable mean in each utterance. Then all five acoustic features were compared across groups.
The auditory analysis showed that the learners at upper intermediate level and above could mark the different information status with proper prominence patterns. The acoustic analysis revealed that unlike the native speaker group, who used all five acoustic features to mark information status, all learner groups used average F0, F0 range and maximum intensity and only the learners at lower intermediate level and above used all five acoustic features to differentiate the three types of information status, although the latter’s performance differed from the native speaker group’s performance. This suggests that once the learners had acquired the phonological property (prominence placement) of information status, they could use the phonetic properties to differentiate the information status, and that these learners’ acquisition of phonetic properties of information status may precede their acquisition of the phonological property of information status.

Bibliographic Note

Research Unit(s) information for this publication is provided by the author(s) concerned.

Citation Format(s)

Acquisition of prosodic marking of information status by Mandarin-speaking learners of English : Phonological vs. phonetic properties. / Hua, Congchao; LI, Bin.

2019. 37 Abstract from 6th International Conference on English Pronunciation (EPIP 6), Skopje, Macedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of.

Research output: Conference Papers (RGC: 31A, 31B, 32, 33)Abstractpeer-review