Speaker: Tokiko Okuma
When: Friday, May 11th at 2pm
Where: Linguistics 002
Title: “L2 Acquisition of Japanese noun accents by L1 English learners”

The experiment reported in this paper explores the influence of L1 prosodic structures on the L2 acquisition of Japanese simple and compound nouns by L1 English learners. Japanese unaccented simple nouns have a structure without a foot. Japanese compounds form one PWd as a whole with one foot. These structures differ from those of their English counterparts; in English, every PWd must have a foot and English compounds have two PWds with two positions of prominence. As a result, L2ers are expected to have a problem with these structures if they transfer L1 prosodic structures into the interlanguage grammar. In the experiment, 9 L2ers were compared with native Japanese speakers in producing simple and compound nouns. The results for pitch and intensity show that the L2ers produced L1 feet in unaccented simple nouns. By contrast, they successfully formed one PWd for the whole compound. These results suggest that modification of existing prosodic constituents (PWds) is acquirable at early stages of development, whereas elimination of existing prosodic constituents (feet) is more problematic.