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中国东北地区英语学习者一般疑问句韵律特征研究

时间:2015-08-13 11:09来源:硕士论文作者:lgg 点击:
This paper intends to investigate the prosodic features of yes-no questionsproduced by Chinese Northeastern EFL learners (CNLs) in comparison with those ofAmerican native speakers (NSs) through acoustic experiments.

Chapter One Introduction


1.1 Research Background
For a long time, second language teaching and learning in China has beenprimarily focused on grammar, vocabulary or pronunciation of lexical words at itsbest, almost all of which are examination-targeted. With the development of the worldeconomy and growing communication with English-speaking people, spoken Englishis becoming increasingly important. However, the examination-targeted teaching andlearning model obviously fails to meet the requirement. So oral English classes are setup from elementary school to college and these classes are taught by native Englishspeakers with the intention of helping students acquire native-like speaking fluency.But we found, from the speaking materials we have collected and from the Englishspeeches by learners around us, that most students fail to accomplish a high-levelperformance. Even the advanced English learners are unable to speak native-likedespite the high fluentness they’ve achieved. The fact that the prosodic featuresapplied by Chinese EFL learners are different from those of native speakers may beresponsible for this foreignness, which, however, has long been neglected in secondlanguage teaching and learning.Researches on prosody overseas have prospered since 1996, especially in suchinterdisciplinary research areas as prosody vs. syntax, prosody vs. formulaiclanguage,and prosody vs.pragmatics.In China, Chinese scholars have not been evenfully aware of the importance of prosody in the study of language, especially in SLA researches,and relevant findings are scarce (Wang, 2013).
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1.2 Purpose and Significance of this Research
This paper intends to investigate the prosodic features of yes-no questionsproduced by Chinese Northeastern EFL learners (CNLs) in comparison with those ofAmerican native speakers (NSs) through acoustic experiments. The speech materialrecorded by CNLs and NSs are identical so that we can contrast the prosodic featuresproduced by Chinese learners and the native speakers, and then locate the placeswhere CNLs are likely to make mistakes.There are researches on prosodic features of various sentence types produced byChinese EFL learners, such as Chen Hua’s (2006), Ji Xiaoli’s (2009), Shao’s (2013)research on tag questions produced by Shandong EFL learners, Wang Meng’s (2012)study on prosodic features of Jinan EFL learners, Lian Xiaorong’s (2013) study onyes-no questions by Beijing EFL learners and Qian Dongxia’s (2014) study on EFLlearners in Ningbo. However, researches targeted at the prosodic features of CNLs arerarely seen. A few studies about the phonetic acquisition of English under theinfluence of local dialects involve only the segmental level, like the pronuncia tion ofvowels and consonants, and few studies have been conducted at suprasegmentallevel—intonation, pitch, duration, phrase segmentation, accent distribution.This research intends to help get a deeper insight into how the first languageinfluences the phonetic acquisition of second language from a local perspective.Language transfer theory shed lights on the problems during English teaching andlearning from the perspective of negative transfer and positive transfer from themother tongue. This paper will find out how transfer is manifested from such aspectsas intonation, accenting distribution and phrase segmentation.
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Chapter Two Previous Studies on EFL Learners’ Prosody


2.1 Definition of Prosody
Thomas (2011) said in his Sociophonetics that prosody is “diverse and full ofopportunities”. Then what is prosody? According to A Dictionary of Linguistics andPhonetics (the fourth edition ) by David Crystal (1997),prosody is a term used forsuprasegmental phonetics and phonology, and collectively it is referred to asvariations in pitch, loudness, speech rate and rhythm. Sometimes, it is also used as asynonym for suprasegmental features. Prosody was initially applied in the analysis ofpoetry and later in various linguistic research fields with new reinterpretations.Wikipedia provides a definition of prosody in linguistics as the rhythm, stress andintonation of speech. It can reflect the emotions of the speake r and indicate the formof the utterance (statement, question, or command). What’s more, it is revealing ofsuch elements as the presence of irony or sarcasm and focus; or other elements thatlexical or grammatical ways are not enough to expose. But these elements areindispensable to display the various functions the prosody of speech expresses.In this paper, we will focus on such variations of prosodic features as intonation,accenting distribution and phrase segmentation. Intonation is defined as the melody of speech which contributes to organizing and conveying the message appropriately(Verdugo, 2006). A definition in Wikipedia can help make “intonation” moreunderstandable. It refers to intonation as a variation of spoken pitch. Pitch is aphonetic term and is used when we want to know how frequently the vocal foldsvibrate. The more frequently the vocal folds vibrate, the higher the pitch is.
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2.2 Studies Abroad on EFL Learners’ Prosody
Researches on prosody of L2 learners with a variety of backgrounds have longbeen conducted. Verdugo (2006), through a computer-assisted study of the learning ofEnglish intonation by Spanish learners, found that a gain in intonation awarenesswould help achieve a significant improvement in the prosodic performance of SpanishEnglish learners. Yelena Mitrofanova (2012) found that in an L2 environment,intonation forms may be separated from their functioning and reproduced bynon-native speakers mechanically. Trim (1988) found that the relatively flat and lowintonation of German learners of English may lead to an ill-founded stereotype aboutnational or linguistic groups. Flege et al (2006) conducted a longitudinal study toevaluate the influence of age and length of residence in an L2-speaking country ondegrees of foreign accent in L2. Some Korean children and adults are taken assubjects. They found that Korean children perform better than Korean adults but notas well as native English children, for they still have a detectable foreign accent. Theresearchers pointed out that Korean children’s milder foreign accents than adults’ maybe due to the greater L2 input typically received by immigrant children than adults.
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Chapter Three Theoretical Framework .........17
3.1 Language Transfer Theory.....17
3.2 Autosegmental-Metrical Theory..........18
3.2.1 The Original Model and Later Development .....20
3.2.2 ToBI Labeling System.....22
3.2.3 IViE Labeling System .....24
Chapter Four Research Methodology ...........27
4.1 Research Questions ........27
4.2 Speech Corpus .........27
4.3 Data Extraction and Processing...........30
Chapter Five Analysis of the Prosodic Features .........33
5.1 Analysis of Accenting Distribution .....33
5.2 Analysis of Phrase Segmentation ........39
5.3 Analysis of Intonation Patterns.....43


Chapter Five Analysis of the Prosodic Features


5.1 Analysis of Accenting Distribution
A stressed syllable is more prominent in the flow of speech. And prominence is aterm of acoustic phonetics and refers to how salient one syllable (or several ones) incontrast with other syllables (Crystal 1997, Cruttenden 1997). The prominentelements are of special significance in linguistics. For example, they can disambiguatewords, determine grammatical groups and so on. In spontaneous speech, theprominent elements and the less prominent ones occur alternatively, and thus theymake up an indispensable component of speech rhythm (Jia, 2010). Wang Jun (2013)pointed out that linguistics defines information structure as researches on relationshipbetween prosodic prominence and the amount of information. Words which areprosodically prominent are ‘‘highlighted’’ in relation to the words around them. Oneof the main reasons why speakers highlight some words is to mark the highlightedword as more informative than others in the utterance (Calhoun, 2010).The chieffunction of prominence is to mark the most informative word o f a speech. Likewise,the words without the presence of prominence carry less information in a speech.Prominence in rhythm equals accenting and the word with accenting is the moresalient one, or the emphasized one which is characterized with higher pitch, longerduration, stronger strength and lower spectral tilt. (Calhoun, 2010).

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Conclusion


The present paper makes an investigation on the prosodic features of yes-noquestions produced by Chinese Northeastern EFL learners based on the acousticexperiments from the perspective of prominence distribution, phrase segmentationand intonation patterns. Due to the various kinds of yes-no questions and limited timeand energy of the author, three kinds are selected as the researching materials, eachwith broad focus and narrow focuses. The focus words also vary from their positionsand syllable numbers. Learners from Ha’erbin, Changchun, Shenyang and Dalian areinvited as subjects. Results show that the prosodic features of Chinese learners arequite different from those of native speakers. Major findings are as follows:As for accenting distribution, we have the following findings. (1) With yes-noquestions led by “can” under broad focus situation, the two groups show somedifferences in prominence patterns. Chinese learners put prominence on the verb“come” and the preposition “with”. One phenomenon worth mentioning is that some American speakers also accented the interrogative word “can”, which didn’t happenin the other “Can” sentences. Under narrow focus situation, “can” and “with” are stillaccented by some Chinese learners. (2) With yes-no questions led by “does/do/did”under broad focus situation, prominence is put on more words by Chinese learnersbecause of the increase of sentence length. “Does” and “to” are accented. Undernarrow focus situation, some Chinese learners didn’t put prominence on the wordbearing focus. Some Americans didn’t put prominence on the focus either. It may bebecause that they also rely on some background information..
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References (omitted)

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