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LINGUIST List 23.1898

Mon Apr 16 2012

Diss: Japanese/Lang Acq/Phonology/Psycho Ling: Taylor: 'The Acquisition of Japanese Lexical Accent by English Speakers'

Editor for this issue: Xiyan Wang <xiyanlinguistlist.org>


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Date: 13-Apr-2012
From: Becky Taylor <becky.tayloryork.ac.uk>
Subject: The Acquisition of Japanese Lexical Accent by English Speakers
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Institution: Nagoya University
Program: Graduate School of Languages and Cultures
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2012

Author: Becky Taylor

Dissertation Title: The Acquisition of Japanese Lexical Accent by English Speakers

Linguistic Field(s): Language Acquisition
                            Phonology
                            Psycholinguistics

Subject Language(s): English (eng)
                            Japanese (jpn)

Dissertation Director:
Tanomu Kashima

Dissertation Abstract:

How do English learners of Japanese learn lexical pitch accent? This thesis
investigates to what extent accent type is learned word by word; to what
extent accent is placed by rule; and how accent production varies both with
experience and from learner to learner. A study was carried out in which
two groups of English learners of Japanese, differing in amount of Japanese
experience, read aloud Japanese words, and the accent types produced were
identified by phonetically trained native speakers of Japanese. The effect
of Standard Japanese (SJ) accent type, mora number, lexical class and
speech environment were analysed.

The results show that, regardless of Japanese experience, which accent type
a word is produced with is not greatly influenced by its Standard Japanese
(SJ) accent type. Neither, for the words in this study which contain only
light syllables, can the accent types produced by either group of learners
be predicted with any confidence from a word's mora number, lexical class
or speech environment. However, each individual learner's accent production
shows some systematicity, with the details of the relation between accent
type and word type and/or speech environment, and what is acquired from SJ,
both individual to the learner.

These results are interpreted to mean that English learners of Japanese
have difficulty in encoding SJ lexical accent in their phonological
representations, perhaps due to a difficulty in recognising pitch as a
lexical property. The large individual differences may be a consequence of
each learner's attempt, in the absence of a phonological representation for
SJ lexical accent, to predict accent placement from the largely
non-predictable accentual system of SJ. Most importantly, this thesis shows
that having English as a common L1 does not lead to similar trends in
lexical accent production in L2 Japanese. Further research could explore
the nature of the phonological representation; the effect of the L1; and
why no effect of experience was observed.



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