15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-15)

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

The Learning of English Prosodic Structures by Speakers of Tunisian Arabic: Word Stress and Weak Forms

Salem Ghazali, Nadia Bouchhioua

Institut Supérieur des Langues de Tunis, Tunisia

This paper investigates the effects of stress patterns of Tunisian Arabic, the native language, and French, the first foreign language, on the learning of English word stress, including function words. Results show that Interference from French in the assignment of stress to English-French cognates and from Arabic in basic English words occurred in 61% and 80% of the cases respectively. These results were significant at the .01 level.
   The errors in stress placements were inversely proportional to the level of proficiency in English, although the use of French stress rules decreased considerably among advanced learners. Students, however, continued to incorrectly assign stress to function words. Listening tests administered to native speakers of English suggested that the inappropriate stressing of weak forms severely affects intelligibility. The results confirm earlier findings on the same population (Ghazali 1973) and show the importance of mastering English rhythmic structures for intelligibility.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Ghazali, Salem / Bouchhioua, Nadia (2003): "The learning of English prosodic structures by speakers of Tunisian Arabic: word stress and weak forms", In ICPhS-15, 961-964.