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

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

Unnatural Rhythm. English Vowel Length in Italian Students

Gabriele Azzaro

University of Bologna, Italy

After measuring contextual and prosodic vowel (V) length in native speakers, two groups of Italian students were compared to them, to see whether those exposed to naturalistic input fared better than traditionally taught ones. Naturalistic input implied residence abroad for one year (while a control group attended classes in a formal university setting). In native speech Vs were longer when followed by voiced consonants (Cs) and in monosyllabic words. The behaviour of L2 speakers showed some departure from the native model in that Foot-structure was not as influential and following C-voicing was only effective to a lesser degree; in all, the naturalistic input learners fared better. Therefore, mastering these V-lengthening mechanisms, albeit not too awkward for Italians, still needs naturalistic input.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Azzaro, Gabriele (2003): "Unnatural rhythm. English vowel length in Italian students", In ICPhS-15, 1573-1576.