Graduation Year


Graduation Month


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

School or Department



Health and Human Performance

Faculty Mentor Department


Faculty Mentor

Mizuki Miyashita


second language acquisition blackfoot pitch melody

Subject Categories

Phonetics and Phonology


Pitch in Blackfoot is characterized by the raising of relative pitch on a syllable in a word. Pitch is not a consciously recognized piece of information among native speakers or teachers. However, pitch is important as it impacts the meaning of words. This study looks at the efficacy of visual guides for Blackfoot pronunciation of pitch by second language learners. I hypothesized that use of visual assistance would improve pitch pronunciation in second language learners.

Subjects were nine Blackfoot learners recruited on campus. Participants were shown 15 words with images and asked to pronounce them. Subjects were then given pitch art, a visual tool mapping pitch, and asked to pronounce the words again with the visual aid. The recordings were analyzed in a phonetic program called Praat, and the measurements were inputted and organized in an excel file for further analysis. Their pronunciation was compared to that of a native speaker.

One participants results were deemed unusable due to creaky voice. Results showed four of the remaining eight learners improved pronunciation overall, but the remaining participants did not. Three conclusions were drawn from these results: (i) the immediate use of images without instruction does not significantly improve pronunciation, (ii) complexity and familiarity of words impact second language pronunciation, and (iii) when words are simple and/or familiar, learners perform better with pitch, and when words are complex or unfamiliar learners struggle with pitch. This study contributes to the field of second language acquisition, especially regarding Blackfoot and other languages with pitch. In addition, language in the Blackfeet community plays a significant role in identity and pride, and, as such, speakers desire to sound authentic and as “native-like” as possible. This study hopes to improve education of Blackfoot language and help learners’ pronouncing Blackfoot words.

Honors College Research Project




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