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An acoustic study of the production of English stress levels by English and Mandarin first-language speakers

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Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
Date created
Acquiring proficiency in the production of English lexical stress, crucial for effective communication in English as a second language (L2), involves mastering acoustic correlates such as fundamental frequency (F0), duration, intensity, and vowel quality. This study investigates how first language (L1) Mandarin speakers who are highly proficient in English, alongside L1 English speakers, produce distinct stress levels: While previous research focused on primary-stressed syllables (PS) and unstressed syllables with reduced vowels (UR), this study newly explores secondary-stressed syllables, or unstressed syllables without with vowel reduction (U). Acoustic analyses reveal that English and Mandarin L1 speakers largely employ similar cues, with duration crucial for distinguishing PS from U and UR syllables, and F0 playing a role in distinguishing UR from PS and U syllables. These findings challenge binary stress models and offer new insights into acoustic cues across English stress levels. Furthermore, the study sheds light on L1 Mandarin speakers' English stress production, demonstrating slight differences in their use of intensity and F0 peak compared to L1 English speakers, potentially due to L1 influences.
52 pages.
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Copyright is held by the author(s).
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
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Thesis advisor: Yeung, Henny
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