14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-14)

San Francisco, CA, USA
August 1-7, 1999

Durational Reduction in L2 English Produced by Japanese Speakers

Motoko Ueyama

University of California, Los Angeles, USA

Durational reduction of unstressed syllables is a characteristic of English rhythmic organization. This study investigated the durational patterns of unstressed vowels in the production of Japanese speakers of English, as a part of our on-going research on prosodic transfer from L1 to L2 phonetics. The results of our experiment showed a general tendency for all four Japanese participants. On average, the duration of an unstressed vowel in a monosyllabic function word was longer than in the unstressed syllable of a polysyllabic content word (i.e. the reduction of unstressed function words is harder to learn than the reduction of unstressed syllables within content words). This pattern cannot be explained by the transfer of Japanese prosody, in which duration and word accent are independent properties. Possibly, the pattern is due to a general constraint on L2 speech development: the metrical grouping of syllables across words is harder than within a single word.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Ueyama, Motoko (1999): "Durational reduction in L2 English produced by Japanese speakers", In ICPhS-14, 567-570.