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Title: Factors and mechanisms in L2 word stress acquisition : evidence from Chinese-English interlanguage
Author: Ou, Shu-chen
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2006
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Research on second language (L2) stress acquisition by speakers of stress languages indicates that error patterns can be analyzed systematically in terms of either the learners’ first language (L1) or universal metrical principles. However, it remains controversial whether such systematicity is also found in L2 stress acquisition by speakers of non-stress languages. This thesis addresses this issue through re-examination of L2 English stress acquisition by speakers of Chinese, a tone language. If systematic patterns emerge in the data, we can address two further questions: a) to what extent are the patterns attributable to L1 transfer, and b) to what extent do the patterns reflect metrical universals? The question of whether Chinese learners can assign systematic stress to English words is examined in chapter 3. Participating in a perceptual preference experiment with English non-words, the Chinese subjects preferred initial stress for σ.CVCC words when they were presented as nouns, but preferred final stress when they were presented as a verb, similar to the English subjects. In trisyllabic words, penultimate stress was preferred when the penult was closed by a consonant (CVC) whereas antepenultimate stress was preferred when the penult only contained a lax vowel (CV). The tendency was stronger when the coda consonant was a sonorant rather than an obstruent. The connection between syllable structure and stress in Chinese-English interlanguage is further investigated in Chapter 4. The main experiment used trisyllabic non-words and was designed to test whether Chinese learners know that English stress shifts from the antepenult to the penult when the penult contains either a long vowel or a coda consonant. Finally, the learning mechanism which guides the acquisition of L2 English stress by Chinese speakers is discussed. The data show that some Chinese subjects were sensitive to the noun-verb contrast but not to the stress contrast conditioned by the penult of trisyllabic nouns.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available