From: Meredith Valant <meredithlinguistlist.org>
Subject: Modified: 17.1071: The Perception and Production of Second Language Stress: A crosslinguistic experimental study
Institution: University of Delaware
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2006
Author: Heidi Altmann
Dissertation Title: The Perception and Production of Second Language Stress: A crosslinguistic experimental study
Subject Language(s): Arabic, Standard (arb)
Chinese, Mandarin (cmn)
This dissertation investigates the effect of native language (L1) stress properties on the second language (L2) acquisition of primary word stress in light of two recent typological hierarchical models of stress: the Stress Deafness Model (SDM) (Peperkamp & Dupoux 2002) and the Stress Typology Model (STM) (Altmann & Vogel 2002). Since research on the L2 performance of a diverse sample of L1s with respect to both perception and production using the same experimental design is virtually non-existent, advanced learners of English from seven distinct L1 groups (Arabic, Chinese, French, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Turkish), as well as native English speakers participated in perception and production experiments. Novel words of two, three, and four syllables length consisting of only open syllables (CV) were used. In the perception experiment, subjects listened to a large number of tokens of various structures and marked the most stressed syllable; in the production experiment, subjects were asked to read aloud tokens from a subset of the structures.
The results indicate that, on the one hand, learners with predictable stress in their L1 (i.e., Arabic, Turkish, French) had problems perceiving the location of stress but they performed most like the English native speakers in production, who applied a frequency-based common strategy. On the other hand, learners without word-level stress in their L1 (i.e., Chinese, Japanese, Korean) or with unpredictable L1 stress (Spanish) showed almost perfect perception scores; however, their productions were quite different from the control group's. Thus, it was found that good perception does not necessarily underlie good production and vice versa.
While the current findings go contrary to predictions made by the SDM, the STM can explain both the perception as well as the production results. Languages with predictable stress, unpredictable stress, and without stress are included in this hierarchical model with branching parameters. It was found that positive parameter settings impede the perception of L2 stress, while the mere setting of the topmost parameter in the hierarchy (i.e., 'yes/no stress language') and thus experience with stress in the L1 determines the rate of success in production, although L1s with non-predictable stress face further challenges.
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