Title

Second Language Acquisition in Blackfeet Rhythm

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

Second language learners are expected to have errors with pronunciation of new words. Many researchers have said that these errors are actually an influence from their native language – known as transfer effect. I investigated a transfer effect of English to Blackfeet focusing on pronunciation. The effect is anticipated to occur because rhythms of the two languages differ. Blackfeet is known as a ‘pitch’ accent language, while English as a ‘stress’ accent language. In a pitch accent language, accented syllables are pronounced with high pitch regardless of vowel length while in a stress accent language, accented syllables are pronounced with stress correlating with vowel length. Take the word saahkómaapi ‘boy’ for example. The second syllable kó is pronounced with a high pitch while the rest with low pitch. However, because the first and the third syllables saah and maa have long vowels, I expected English speakers would pronounce these with stress and kó without stress. In order to study this aspect, I conducted an experiment in which I recorded Native and non-native Blackfeet speakers pronouncing 20 Blackfeet words. I measured sound frequencies and vowel duration of each word, using an acoustic phonetics program (praat). Then I identified and analyzed the participants’ accent patterns. In my presentation, I will report the results to my experiment. The study concludes that transfer effect does occur from English to Blackfeet. As of now there is no report on the Blackfeet language Second Language acquisition and this study will contribute to advancing linguistics research in Second Language phonology. The information of the study provides Blackfeet teachers a better understanding of how non-native speakers acquire pronunciation.

Category

Social Sciences

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Second Language Acquisition in Blackfeet Rhythm

Second language learners are expected to have errors with pronunciation of new words. Many researchers have said that these errors are actually an influence from their native language – known as transfer effect. I investigated a transfer effect of English to Blackfeet focusing on pronunciation. The effect is anticipated to occur because rhythms of the two languages differ. Blackfeet is known as a ‘pitch’ accent language, while English as a ‘stress’ accent language. In a pitch accent language, accented syllables are pronounced with high pitch regardless of vowel length while in a stress accent language, accented syllables are pronounced with stress correlating with vowel length. Take the word saahkómaapi ‘boy’ for example. The second syllable kó is pronounced with a high pitch while the rest with low pitch. However, because the first and the third syllables saah and maa have long vowels, I expected English speakers would pronounce these with stress and kó without stress. In order to study this aspect, I conducted an experiment in which I recorded Native and non-native Blackfeet speakers pronouncing 20 Blackfeet words. I measured sound frequencies and vowel duration of each word, using an acoustic phonetics program (praat). Then I identified and analyzed the participants’ accent patterns. In my presentation, I will report the results to my experiment. The study concludes that transfer effect does occur from English to Blackfeet. As of now there is no report on the Blackfeet language Second Language acquisition and this study will contribute to advancing linguistics research in Second Language phonology. The information of the study provides Blackfeet teachers a better understanding of how non-native speakers acquire pronunciation.