14thAnnual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Lyon, France
August 25-29, 2013

Realisation of Tonal Alignment in the English of Japanese-English Late Bilinguals

Calbert Graham, Brechtje Post

University of Cambridge, UK

Several factors have been attested to affect the temporal synchronisation of tonal targets such as syllable duration, segmental structure and proximity to word or intonational boundaries. Given the apparent language-specific nature of tonal alignment, it can be expected that late bilinguals who are acquiring a second language will need to learn the alignment implementation rules of that language, in addition to other aspects. This study compared the tonal alignment patterns of Japanese late bilingual English speakers and monolingual English speakers in order to investigate to what extent learners transfer their native implementation strategies to the interlanguage, and whether alignment changes with proficiency. The results show that, although initial-accented words were aligned later than final-accented words for all groups, as expected, the Japanese bilinguals aligned the former significantly later than the monolinguals. Further analyses revealed that their off-target realisations were generally limited to a specific type of syllable structure that we speculate may be linked to peak delay in their L1. These results are taken as evidence of prosodic transfer and suggest that late bilinguals will need to learn the L2 phonetic implementation rules of alignment independently of their acquisition of the phonology.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Graham, Calbert / Post, Brechtje (2013): "Realisation of tonal alignment in the English of Japanese-English late bilinguals", In INTERSPEECH-2013, 2390-2394.