Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The interaction of lexical and discourse-level categories in second language phonetics
by Teague, Kimberly, Ph.D., Georgetown University, 2011, 205; 3490423
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines the interaction between lexical and discourse level categories in second language speech; specifically, the interaction of tone and intonation in the speech of Mandarin learners of English. The topic is investigated by analyzing recordings of 14 monolingual speakers of Mandarin, 16 Mandarin-English bilinguals, and 16 monolingual speakers of English producing word-lists, and statements and questions in both languages. The following questions are addressed:

(1) Does the Speech Learning Model (SLM) extend to tone and intonation?

The SLM predicts merger of L1 and L2 segmental categories, but has never been expanded to the suprasegmental level. The predictions of the SLM at both levels were tested here by examining Voice Onset Time (VOT) of Mandarin /p h/ and English /p/, timing of F0 peak in Mandarin H and English H*L, and rate of declination in word-lists. Mandarin-English speakers produced both Mandarin-like and English-like phonetic variants in both languages. Thus, a bidirectional interaction that was similar to segmental interaction was found between Mandarin tone and English intonation. The category merger predicted by the SLM was not found, however, at either the segmental or suprasegmental level.

(2) Which model of tone and intonation, the Autosegmental Metrical (AM) or the Parallel Encoding and Target Approximation (PENTA) model, best accounts for Mandarin-English intonation?

It is argued that the findings of this study are best accounted for by AM because (a) tone and intonation interact bi-directionally at the phonetic level, and (b) Mandarin-English intonation can be accounted for through sequences of level tones.

Two different intonation patterns were found in Mandarin-English statements and questions. In the first pattern, a L boundary tone (L#) marked the right edge of every contrastive focus word in statements and questions; these utterances also had a low post-focus pitch register. In the second pattern, the L# was found in statements, but a H boundary tone occurred in questions; statements had a low post-focus pitch register, while questions had a high one. It is suggested that, since pitch register is predictable from tonal pattern, only tones need be represented to account for Mandarin-English intonation, consistent with an AM account.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Zsiga, Elizabeth
Commitee: Loehr, Dan, Sanz, Cristina
School: Georgetown University
Department: Linguistics
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 73/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Linguistics, English as a Second Language
Keywords: AM, Discourse-level categories, English language learners, Intonation, L2 phonology, Lexical categories, PENTA, Phonetics, Speech learning model, Tone
Publication Number: 3490423
ISBN: 9781267111562
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