Assessment of L2 speech prosody: A production and perception study of native and foreign-accented Japanese

The speech of non-native language learners can vary in many ways from that of native speakers. It has been proposed by previous studies that prosodic cues are one way in which second language (L2) speech patterns differ from those of the typical native (L1) speaker (e.g. Munro and Derwing 1995). Stress, rhythm, intonation, and pausing have been shown to be the most pervasive non-segmental cues that have been observed in speech perception. In the realm of L2 language and pronunciation assessment, the impact of prosodic errors on the perception of foreign accent has also been previously attested (Anderson-Hsieh et al. 1992). For the case of Japanese, the dimensions of timing and pitch play major roles (Sato 1995, Ishihara et al. 2011; Ishihara, Tsurutani, and Tsukada 2011; Tsurutani 2010). 

In this talk, I present the findings of an acoustic and perception study of native and Australian English (AusE) accented Japanese speech. Native and novice Japanese speech serve as the stimuli for this study, extending the research of Ishihara et al. 2011, and Ishihara, Tsurutani, and Tsukada 2011. The acoustic study investigates how Japanese pitch accent is modified by Australian English stress accent through the prosodic correlates of pitch, intensity, and duration. The perception study has native and AusE advanced listeners of Japanese rate the pronunciation based on the dimensions of accent and comprehensibility. It is the aim that the use of a bidimensional judgment system in conjunction with the multivariate acoustic study allows for a more precise, exhaustive characterization of the particular aspects of prosody that affect pronunciation, as well as the relative impact of foreign-accent on speech perception.

References
Anderson-Hsieh, J., Johnson, R., and Koehlher, K. (1992). The relationship between native speaker judgments of non-native pronunciation and deviance in segmentals, prosody, and syllable structure. Language Learning, 45, 73-97. 

Ishihara, S., Fan, Y., Jalil, D., and Tsurutani, C. (2011). A comparative study on perception of foreign-accented Japanese by L2 Japanese listeners having different L1 backgrounds: English, Chinese and Indonesian. Proc. ICPhS XVII, pp. 950-953, Hong Kong. 

Ishihara, S., Tsurutani, C. and Tsukada, K. (2011). What constitutes 'good pronunciation' from L2 Japanese learners' and native speakers' perspectives? A perception study. Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 8 (Suppl. 1), 277-290. 

Munro, M. and Derwing, T. (2002) Modeling perceptions of the accentedness and comprehensibility of L2 speech." SSLA, 23, 451-468. Munro, M. and Derwing, T. (1995) Foreign accent, comprehensibility, and intelligibility in the speech of second language learners. Language Learning, 45, 73-97.

Tsurutani, C. (2010). Foreign accent matters when timing is wrong. Proc. Interspeech 2010, pp. 1854-1857, Japan. 

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