14thAnnual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Lyon, France
August 25-29, 2013

An Investigation of Vowel Epenthesis in Chinese Learners' Production of German Consonants

Hongwei Ding (1), Rüdiger Hoffmann (2)

(1) Tongji University, China
(2) Technische Universität Dresden, Germany

The present study investigates the influence of phonetic factors on the frequency of vowel epenthesis in the German speech of Chinese learners. The subjects were intermediate learners of German who entered Germany within five months of their study. Descriptive statistics were performed on the data collected from reading tasks, and phonetic analysis was provided to explain the phenomenon of epenthesis. In the main experiment, eighteen Chinese students were recruited to read 50 phonetically rich sentences with various sentence modes after one month residence in Germany. Results indicate that these learners employed the epenthesis strategy more or less in producing consonant codas and consonant onset clusters in German. An investigation in the frequency of epenthesis in relation to various factors demonstrates that consonant cluster length, L1 transfer, markedness, sonority, and articulatory timing influence the occurrences of epenthesis simultaneously. An additional experiment was conducted after a time span of three months, ten of these subjects were requested to read the same text, the result shows that the amount of epenthesis decreases with the increase of the length of residence and German language learning experience. These findings might shed some light on the acquisition process of consonant codas in foreign languages.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Ding, Hongwei / Hoffmann, Rüdiger (2013): "An investigation of vowel epenthesis in Chinese learners' production of German consonants", In INTERSPEECH-2013, 1007-1011.