Second Language
Online ISSN : 2187-0047
Print ISSN : 1347-278X
ISSN-L : 1347-278X
Do English learners of Japanese produce isolated nouns with Standard Japanese lexical accent?
Becky Taylor
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2011 Volume 10 Pages 15-31


In much of previous research on the acquisition of Japanese lexical accent by English learners, no distinction has been made between the direct influence of Standard Japanese on the one hand, and chance correspondences between Standard Japanese and the learners' interlanguage on the other. A study was carried out in which phonetically trained Japanese native speakers identified the accent types of 2- and 3-mora isolated nouns produced by 13 less experienced and 8 more experienced British English learners of Japanese, and these were compared with Standard Japanese (SJ) accent types. The less experienced and more experienced learners differed in the amount of Japanese tuition they had received and the length of time they had spent in Japan, and stimuli were chosen that were expected to be familiar to the learners. Two-mora nouns showed the result that, for both groups of learners, whether a word was produced with initial or no accent had no relation to its accent type in SJ. For 3-mora nouns, a statistically significant influence of SJ was observed for both groups of learners, but the correspondence with SJ was not high, regardless of Japanese experience. These results imply that much - or, in the case of 2-mora nouns, all - of the correspondence with a word's SJ accent type can be attributed to chance matches with the learner's interlanguage, and may suggest that English learners of Japanese have difficulty in recognising pitch as a lexical property.

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© 2011 The Japan Second Language Association
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