Prosodic Transfer: From Chinese Lexical tone to English Pitch Accent

Marie Ploquin


Chinese tones are associated with a syllable to convey meaning, English pitch accents are prominence markers associated with stressed syllables.  As both are created by pitch modulation, their pitch contours can be quite similar.  The experiment reported here examines whether native speakers of Chinese produce, when speaking English, the Chinese tone whose phonetic contour most closely matches the contour of the intended English pitch accent.  Six native speakers of Chinese recorded English and Chinese sentences, all including the segment [fan].  Results show that the subjects produced a Chinese tone 2 where a rising pitch accents was required and thus that speakers of Chinese rely on their lexical tones inventory to produce English prosody. The results obtained with falling pitch accents are much less conclusive partly because of the difficulty in measuring tone 3 due to the high level of creak that accompanies it.

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