The Ultimate Test: Suffix-Conditioned Stress Shift in English L2 Learners

Abstract

The present study examines the prosodic proficiency of English L2 learners by using derived words with stress-shifting suffixes. Stress-shifting suffixes could relocate the stem stress to three different positions: 1) one syllable before the suffix (pre-stressed 1) e.g. Athlete to atheLEtic 2) two syllables before (pre-stressed 2) e.g. INfant to inFANticide, or 3) 1/2 syllable before (pre-stressed ¬Ω)__ generally one syllable before the suffix, but modulated by syllable weight of the target syllable e.g. creAte to creAtive (target syllable heavy) vs. neGAte to NAgetive (target syllable light). Ten trisyllabic stems from each shifting category were used as stimuli for a production experiment. Three trained phoneticians transcribed the stress placements in the production from forty college students who learn English as second language. The preliminary results revealed that the participants perform significantly better in pre-stressed 1 and pre-stressed 2 conditions compared to pre-stressed 1/2. It is posited that pre-stressed 1/2 pattern is far more rare and requires the learners to have the sense of strong and weak syllable distinction, hence is more challenging for the learners. On the other hand, cross comparison of the cohorts of the stimuli showed that the erroneous stress form usually matches the stress pattern of the most frequent word among the inflectional and derivational cohorts, for example, misplacement of stress in *demonSTRAting resembles the most frequent cohort __demonSTRAtion__ in the morphological paradigm. The effect of shift pattern and lexical frequency on the accuracy rate, and their correlation with L2 learners__ prosodic proficiency will be discussed.



Author Information
Yuwen Lai, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan
Zhao-de Lin, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan

Paper Information
Conference: IICLLHawaii2016
Stream: Linguistics

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