A Corpus-based Study on Prosodic Grouping and Boundary Tones in Mandarin Learners’ English

Sally Chen, Janice Fon, National Taiwan University

This study investigated the prosodic grouping of L2 spoken English. A set of ten recordings was extracted from an in-progress learner corpus on an English proficiency test. Each recording consisted of two passages read aloud by a learner who had received a grade of 3, the median grade of the test, on a five-point scale. A group of ten native speakers was recruited to serve as control. They were given the same test materials and their readings were recorded under a test scenario similar to that of the L2 learners. Labeling followed the English ToBI convention. Results showed that in terms of break indices, liaisons only occurred among native speakers, and the L2 learners were in general not as fluent in reading the same texts aloud. In addition, L2 learners assigned more tones in their production and matched with the native speakers in assigning positions for boundary tones. However, the consistency of tone types between native and L2 speech was found only for major syntactic boundaries.