Feeling Righteous? Stress Shift in English L2 Learners

Abstract

This study examines the stress assignment of English suffixed words produced by L2 learners. The stimuli were disyllabic words and their two suffixed forms: in isolation, e.g. ‘HUman’, with neutral suffixes, e.g. ‘HUman-ist’, and with non-neutral suffixes e.g. ‘huMAn-ity’. The addition of non-neutral suffixes in the present study induces two types of stress shift: (1) progressive shift in base words with penultimate stress, e.g. MUsic to muSIcian and (2) regressive shift in base words with ultimate stress, e.g. preFER to PREference. The stimuli were construccted using the spoken data from COCA (The Corpus of Contemporary American English). Each stimulus was presented in plain text without stress marks on a computer screen for 4 seconds and was repeated 4 times in a random order. Twenty L2 learners who are native Mandarin speakers were instructed to produce the word within the time limit. The reaction time was also monitored. The recordings were transcribed by three trained phoneticians and the accuracy rate was tabulated. The results showed a significant lower accuracy rate and a longer reaction time in regressive shift pattern. It is thus postulated that there is an asymmetry between progressive and regressive shift patterns. The effect of stress location, lexical frequency, and stress awareness on the accuracy rate is discussed. The present study hopes to contribute to teaching English stress in an L2 context.



Author Information
Yuwen Lai, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan
Chih-Chun Chang, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan

Paper Information
Conference: ACLL2015
Stream: Linguistics

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