Non-Native Perception of Native English Prominence

Rachel E. Baker, Northwestern University

This study examines the factors that influence Mandarin and Korean speakers’ understanding of English pitch accent placement. The results show that both groups have difficulty determining whether a native English speaker is using the correct prosody for a particular discourse context. Participants’ ability to do this task improved with greater English proficiency, as measured by the Versant English Test. Participants’ success was also influenced by whether a sentence had broad or narrow focus, whether an accent was placed within a focused constituent, and by the number of contexts in which a particular accent placement is used.