University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics


Previous studies on L2 stress perception have mainly focused on words in isolation or in single intonational contexts. This paper reports on a study exploring the influence of different intonation contours, falling (declarative) and rising (yes/no question), on nonnative speakers' stress identification. The study compared the perception of stress position in English words by native speakers of Mandarin, a tone language, and English, a stress language. The results showed that Mandarin speakers exhibited misperception of stress position when high tones did not coincide with the stressed syllable. As a control condition, native English speakers also displayed misperception of stress, but to a lesser extent in the condition of initial stress. Tonal transfer and asymmetrical cue usage are believed to be responsible for the perceptual differences.



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