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LINGUIST List 22.1038

Wed Mar 02 2011

Diss: Lang Acq: Yang: 'The Acquisition of Mandarin Prosody by ...'

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        1.     Chunsheng Yang , The Acquisition of Mandarin Prosody by American Learners of Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL)

Message 1: The Acquisition of Mandarin Prosody by American Learners of Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL)
Date: 02-Mar-2011
From: Chunsheng Yang <ycsgeorgegmail.com>
Subject: The Acquisition of Mandarin Prosody by American Learners of Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL)
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Institution: Ohio State University
Program: Department of East Asian Languages and Literature
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2011

Author: Chunsheng Yang

Dissertation Title: The Acquisition of Mandarin Prosody by American Learners of Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL)

Linguistic Field(s): Language Acquisition

Subject Language(s): Chinese, Mandarin (cmn)
                            English (eng)

Dissertation Director:
Marjorie K. M. Chan
Mineharu Nakayama
Cynthia G. Clopper
Mary Esther Beckman

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation examines the acquisition of Mandarin prosody by American
learners of Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL). Specifically, it examines
the four aspects of Mandarin prosody: (1) the prosodic phrasing (i.e.,
breaking up of utterances into smaller units); (2) the surface F0 and
duration patterns of prosodic phrasing in a group of sentence productions
elicited from L1 and L2 speakers of Mandarin Chinese; (3) the patterns of
tones errors in L2 Mandarin productions; and (4) the relationship between
tone errors and prosodic phrasing in L2 Mandarin. The analysis of prosodic
phrasing in the corpus shows that prosodic phrasing is closely related to
syntactic structure in both L1 and L2 Mandarin productions. Moreover,
results show that the syntactic structure in a prosodic phrase does not
influence the prosodic structure of that constituent in either the learner
group or the native group. Analysis of the duration patterns in the L1 and
L2 Mandarin corpus shows that the most consistent duration pattern that
indexes prosodic phrasing is phrase-final lengthening. In addition, the
duration analysis shows that the native group shows phrase-initial
lengthening, the intermediate learner group shows phrase-initial
shortening, and the advanced learner group shows no effect of phrasing on
phrase-initial duration. This pattern of phrase-initial
lengthening/shortening indicates a learning effect in that the advanced
learner group patterned more similarly to the native group. We also
observed the transfer of L1 English stress patterns, such as the weak
versus strong alternating stress patterns in the L2 corpus. With respect to
the F0 patterns of prosodic phrasing, it was found that the conflicting
tone sequences (the sequences in which the target at the offset of a
preceding tone and the target at the onset of the following tone are
identical) posed more difficulty for learners than the compatible tone
sequences (the sequences in which the target at the offset of a preceding
tone and the target at the onset of a following tone are different).
Specifically, the productions by the native speakers involved more target
undershoot (namely, the tone targets are not fully realized) than those by
the L2 learners. It was also found that the tone target undershoot mostly
occurred in the first prosodic phrase of an utterance. The transfer of
English intonation patterns was also observed, such as the transfer of a
high phrase accent at the end of a prosodic phrase. Analysis of tone errors
shows that the low and rising tones were the most frequent tone errors
produced by the two groups of learners in their L2 Mandarin productions,
regardless of the underlying tones. The patterns of tone errors in
different tone sequences suggest that the learners not only had difficulty
in changing the tone targets quickly in the conflicting tone sequences,
they also had difficulty in changing the F0 direction quickly in the
compatible tone sequences. It is argued that these tone errors were
produced as a consequence of the superimposition of the L1 English
utterance-level prosody over tone production by L2 learners.

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