Effects of Pitch Fall and L1 on Vowel Length Identification in L2 Japanese

Izumi Takiguchi


This study investigated whether and how the role of pitch fall in the first language (L1) interacts with its use as a cue for Japanese phonological vowel length in the second language (L2). Native listeners of Japanese (NJ) and L2 learners of Japanese with L1 backgrounds in Mandarin Chinese (NC), Seoul Korean (NK), American English (NE), and French (NFr) participated in a perception experiment. The results showed that the proportion of “long” responses increased as a function of vowel duration for all groups, giving s-shaped curves. Meanwhile, the presence or absence of a pitch fall within a syllable affected only NJ and NC’s perception. Their category boundary occurred at a shorter duration for vowels with a pitch fall than without a pitch fall. Among the four groups of L2 learners, only NC use pitch fall to distinguish words in the L1. Thus, it is possible to think that the role of pitch fall as an L1 cue relates to its use as a cue for L2 length identification. L2 learners tend to attend to an important phonetic feature as a cue for perceiving an L1 category differentiating L1 words even in the L2 as implied by the Feature Hypothesis.


 DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-763

Cite as: Takiguchi, I. (2017) Effects of Pitch Fall and L1 on Vowel Length Identification in L2 Japanese. Proc. Interspeech 2017, 369-373, DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-763.


@inproceedings{Takiguchi2017,
  author={Izumi Takiguchi},
  title={Effects of Pitch Fall and L1 on Vowel Length Identification in L2 Japanese},
  year=2017,
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2017},
  pages={369--373},
  doi={10.21437/Interspeech.2017-763},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/Interspeech.2017-763}
}