CLS Speaker Series - Aaron Albin (Penn State University) A theoretical and methodological framework for the analysis of intonation produced by second language learners
Mar 04, 2016
from 09:00 AM to 10:30 AM
|Where||127 Moore Building|
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The mechanisms at work behind how one acquires the intonation system of a second language remain very poorly understood. While the major models in Second Language Phonology (such as the Speech Learning Model or Perceptual Assimilation Model) have been widely extended to lexical contrasts involving pitch, until relatively recently, surprisingly little attention had been given to sentence-level intonation (as used, for example, to communicate information structure or discourse meanings). In particular, to date there is still no fully worked-out account of cross-linguistic transfer manifests itself in L2 intonation. Our limited understanding in this domain is also due in no small part to the fact it is far from trivial to unpack a pitch contour into its underlying phonological category structure, even in native speech. Thus, the problems hindering progress on this front are both theoretical and methodological in nature.
This talk sketches out a framework for tackling these two problems. On the theoretical end, based on a review of several hundred empirical studies on L2 intonation published between 1950 and 2013, twelve ways that the intonation system of the L1 can influence speech production in the L2 are identified. These are then assembled into a typology of L2 intonation transfer, expanding a previous typology by Mennen (2015). On the methodological end, a framework is presented whereby an L2 learner's intonation contour is 'stylized' into a quantitative representation reflecting the shape of the contour. Such stylizations can then be 'queried' in phonologically-informed ways to probe a phenomenon of interest for a particular research question. As an illustration, this approach is applied to corpus data on boundary rises in yes no questions produced by L1 Japanese learners of L2 English. Taken together, this framework not only lays out an intricate web of empirical predictions but also provides a means by which to test them, thus serving as a foundation for future research on this aspect of bilingual speech production.