Prosody transfer failure despite cross-language similarities
Evidence in favor of a complex dynamic system approach in pronunciation teaching
This study investigates how English and Mandarin speakers (1) use pitch resets and pauses to signal discourse boundaries, and (2) use pitch, duration, and intensity to indicate contrastive stress in their L1s. This study also explores how Mandarin-speaking English learners use prosodic features in L1 Mandarin and L2 English. Linear mixed-effects models showed that Mandarin and English share similarities in the forms and functions of prosody. However, Mandarin-speaking English learners did not transfer prosody usage to L2 English despite these similarities. These findings suggest that L2 prosody learning is not a typological transfer between two static language systems. Rather, it involves the interaction between two complex and dynamic prosody systems, each with its own mapping between prosodic forms and functions. Prosody teaching, therefore, should take into account the dynamic nature of prosody and compare L1 and L2 prosody in forms, meanings, and functions.
Keywords: pronunciation teaching, second language acquisition, prosody, suprasegmental features, pitch reset, pause, contrastive stress, complex dynamic system
Published online: 06 August 2020
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