Perception of English Prominence by Native Mandarin Chinese Speakers

Andrew Rosenberg, Julia Hirschberg, Kim Manis, City University of New York

Native-like perception of intonational prominence is important for spoken language competency. Non-native speakers may have trouble interpreting prosodic variation in a second language like English, where intonational variation can critically influence utterance semantics. By identifying types of prosody non-native learners find difficult to perceive, we can improve our ability to teach L2 speakers a language. In this paper we present results of a perception study in which Mandarin speakers with knowledge of English were tested on their ability to identify prosodic prominence in English in a variety of contexts. Through this analysis we identify particular contexts which make it difficult for Mandarin speakers to recognize pitch accent in English.