PERCEPTION OF ENGLISH LEXICAL STRESS WITH A MARKED PITCH ACCENT BY NATIVE SPEAKERS OF MANDARIN
Shu-chen Ou/ National Sun Yat-sen University
Three perceptual experiments were conducted to investigate the perception of English lexical stress with a marked nuclear pitch accent by native speakers of Taiwan Mandarin at the phonological and phonetic levels of processing. The stimuli were English disyllabic word pairs differing only in the position of the stress and in the morphosyntactic categories (e.g., PERmit (n.) vs. perMIT (v.)), presented for identification or discrimination. The general finding is that Mandarin-speaking learners of English performed in a native-like manner in the unmarked pitch accent context but not in the marked one. Further examination of their performance in the latter context revealed that while experienced learners failed to match the stress patterns with their morphosyntactic categories in the identification task, they could categorize them in the ABX task, which suggests that they were not phonologically deaf to stress. In contrast, inexperienced learners could not do the same, presumably deaf to stress at the phonological level. Yet, their sensitivity to both within- and across-category stress differences in the AX task indicates that they did not experience stress deafness at the phonetic level.
Key words: English prosody, stress deafness, interaction between stress and intonation patterns