Presenter Information

Yuna HiranumaFollow

Presentation Type

Presentation

Faculty Mentor’s Full Name

Mizuki Miyashita

Faculty Mentor’s Department

Anthropology: Linguistics Program

Abstract

This research examines second language acquisition (SLA) of English speakers learning Japanese by investigating how acoustic features of the first language influence the learners’ pronunciation. According to the theoretical notion of language transfer in SLA, linguistic features of learners’ first language emerge in their pronunciation of second language (Saville-Troike, 2006). Linguistic features concerned here are phonetic elements of word prominence (strongest part of a word). Beckman (1984; 1989) claims that English is considered a stress-accent language in which prominence is indicated by the combination of pitch and loudness, whereas Japanese is a pitch-accent language in which prominence is solely indicated by pitch. Based on these studies, I hypothesized that both pitch and loudness appear in prominence of the learners’ pronunciation, whereas only pitch is involved in that of Japanese speakers’, which indicates phonetic transfer.

The data consisted of recordings of ten Japanese words pronounced by English native-speakers who are studying in a second-year Japanese class at the University of Montana. Pronunciation by three native Japanese speakers was used as control. Pitch and loudness of all vowels in each word were measured using acoustic phonetic analysis software called Praat. Correlation between the highest pitch and loudness within the words was examined, and a comparative analysis of pronunciations between English and Japanese was conducted.

The result showed that correlation between pitch and loudness in the learners’ pronunciation was higher than that in Japanese speakers’. This indicates that prominence transfer was occurring, and thus supports the hypothesis. This research contributes to the study of SLA and related fields: it (i) adds data regarding sound acquisition, which is less common in the field, (ii) suggests a useful method for similar research, and (iii) helps learners of a pitch-accent language to become more proficient in terms of pronunciation.

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Social Sciences

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Apr 27th, 1:40 PM Apr 27th, 2:00 PM

Suprasegmental Production by American Learners of Japanese: A Phonetic Investigation

UC 326

This research examines second language acquisition (SLA) of English speakers learning Japanese by investigating how acoustic features of the first language influence the learners’ pronunciation. According to the theoretical notion of language transfer in SLA, linguistic features of learners’ first language emerge in their pronunciation of second language (Saville-Troike, 2006). Linguistic features concerned here are phonetic elements of word prominence (strongest part of a word). Beckman (1984; 1989) claims that English is considered a stress-accent language in which prominence is indicated by the combination of pitch and loudness, whereas Japanese is a pitch-accent language in which prominence is solely indicated by pitch. Based on these studies, I hypothesized that both pitch and loudness appear in prominence of the learners’ pronunciation, whereas only pitch is involved in that of Japanese speakers’, which indicates phonetic transfer.

The data consisted of recordings of ten Japanese words pronounced by English native-speakers who are studying in a second-year Japanese class at the University of Montana. Pronunciation by three native Japanese speakers was used as control. Pitch and loudness of all vowels in each word were measured using acoustic phonetic analysis software called Praat. Correlation between the highest pitch and loudness within the words was examined, and a comparative analysis of pronunciations between English and Japanese was conducted.

The result showed that correlation between pitch and loudness in the learners’ pronunciation was higher than that in Japanese speakers’. This indicates that prominence transfer was occurring, and thus supports the hypothesis. This research contributes to the study of SLA and related fields: it (i) adds data regarding sound acquisition, which is less common in the field, (ii) suggests a useful method for similar research, and (iii) helps learners of a pitch-accent language to become more proficient in terms of pronunciation.