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ERIC Number: ED518437
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 217
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1241-6152-5
Connecting Phrasal and Rhythmic Events: Evidence from Second Language Speech
Nava, Emily Anne
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Southern California
This dissertation investigates the relation between prosodic events at the phrasal level and component events at the rhythmic level. The overarching hypothesis is that the interaction among component rhythmic events gives rise to prosodic patterns at the phrasal level, while at the same time being constrained by the latter, and that in the case of second language acquisition, acquisition at the rhythmic level will precede that of the phrasal level. The data used to investigate the hypothesis and related predictions is from a test population of second language speakers of English whose first language is Spanish, and a control population of monolingual speakers of English. These speaker populations provide an ideal testing ground due to the contrast in prosodic organization between Spanish and English. By examining the prosodic behavior of acquirers who are in different stages of the acquisition process the structure of the prosodic system and its organization can be observed, while in tandem observing how the prosodic system of the acquirers' undergoes change. Among the factors that guide the realization of a given phrasal prosodic pattern are verb type and discourse context. In English both phrase-final and phrase-internal prosodic patterns exist for wide focus discourse contexts. However, in Spanish for the same discourse context only phrase-final prosodic patterns exist. English and Spanish also differ regarding the properties that characterize the rhythm of each language. Among other properties relevant to the overall rhythmic difference between the two languages, the hallmark of English rhythm is a substantial discrepancy in duration between adjacent vowels--a property that is not characteristic of rhythm in Spanish. A set of three experiments probes the relation between phrasal and rhythmic events. The first experiment addresses the question of phrasal prosodic patterns in English with monolingual and second language speakers. Results confirm the existence of both phrase-final and phrase-internal prosodic patterns in English, and speak to the difference in prosodic pattern realization between speaker populations, namely that many second language speakers produce a phrase-final pattern where monolinguals produce a phrase-internal pattern. The second experiment addresses the difference in rhythmic properties between English and Spanish, first with a global measure of the ratio between voiced and voiceless intervals in speech, and a second, more precise analysis that details the difference between specific vowel durations. This analysis allows for the first approximation of the connection between rhythmic and phrasal events with the finding that not only do English and Spanish differ regarding crucial vowel duration differences, but importantly that second language speakers with phrase-internal prosody in their speech also demonstrate an English-like distribution of vowel duration properties. The final experiment unites the findings of Experiments 1 and 2 and explores the nature of rhythmic events in a repetition task designed to elicit language-specific patterns of the coordination of adjacent vowels comprising larger rhythmic units. English monolingual and Spanish monolingual speakers demonstrated very different preferences for vowel coordination in the task condition that encourages for the formation of a durationally-modulated foot. Second-language speakers with phrase-internal nuclear stress in their speech patterned like the monolingual English speakers in this task, while those without phrase-internal nuclear stress did not. This work contributes to our understanding of the language-specific modes of organization within the realm of prosody, and provides a window into the path of acquisition for the second language learner. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A