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Academic Paper

Title: Stress and cues to relative prominence in English and French: A perceptual study
Author: Dan Frost
Institution: Université Pierre Mendès France
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Phonology
Subject Language: English
Abstract: The relative prominence of syllables is essential to the segmentation of speech and therefore a crucial component of language comprehension, acquisition and learning. Incorrect placement and marking of prominence in English by non-native speakers can lead to problems in comprehensibility. Because the English and French phonological systems are so different, especially in the domain of stress, this can cause serious difficulties for many French speakers learning English. Indeed, some authors have posited the existence of 'stress deafness' in certain individuals. I suggest that French and English native speakers listen differently for stress, attributing different importance to the acoustic cues of F0, duration, amplitude and formant structure. This study focuses on the relative importance of these four cues with both English and French stimuli for English and French native speakers, and the results support the hypothesis.


This article appears IN Journal of the International Phonetic Association Vol. 41, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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