NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
PDF on ERIC Download full text
ERIC Number: EJ1110808
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 22
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1345-8353
The Use of Prosody in Semantic and Syntactic Disambiguation: Comparison between Japanese and Chinese Speakers' Sentence Production in English
Tian, Shuang; Murao, Remi
Journal of Pan-Pacific Association of Applied Linguistics, v20 n1 p113-134 2016
The present study examined the use of prosody in semantic and syntactic disambiguation by means of comparison between Japanese and Chinese speakers' production of English sentences. In Chinese and Japanese, lexical prosody is more prominent than sentence prosody, and the sentential meaning contrast is usually realized through particles or a change in word order instead of prosodic cues. In order to find out whether Chinese and Japanese speakers of English can produce prosodic differences when they are aware of the syntactic and semantic ambiguity of the sentence, a read-aloud experiment was conducted. The results indicated that both Japanese and Chinese speakers were able to represent the difference of meaning by means of pause and the rising or falling of pitch at the final position of a sentence, which was reflected by their performance on boundary and tag questions. However, it was difficult for them to represent the difference of focus and phrase structure type merely by means of prosody. These findings suggest that some aspects of English prosody, such as a compound accent that is opposite to that of Japanese and Chinese, a phrasal accent that is peculiar to some degree, and an emphatic focus, require more consideration than other aspects. Furthermore, regardless of whether they are Japanese or Chinese learners of English, learners should expend more time and concentration on practicing the specific patterns of prosody that relate to semantic or syntactic disambiguation in English.
Pan-Pacific Association of Applied Linguistics. Department of English, Namseoul University, 21 Maeju-ri, Seonghwan-eup, Cheonan-city, Choongnam, Korea 330-707. Tel: +82-2-3290-1995; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Japan
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Test of English for International Communication
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A