Proceedings of the Xth Conference, Helsinki 2008
Edited By Martti Vainio, Reijo Aulanko and Olli Aaltonen
22. Context affects the prosody of second language speech: an exploratory study of Finnish English 227
CONTEXT AFFECTS THE PROSODY OF SECOND LANGUAGE SPEECH: AN EXPLORATORY STUDY OF FINNISH ENGLISH Juhani Toivanen 1 Introduction Learning prosody can be seen as belonging to the pragmatic aspects of second language acquisition, and it is known that pragmatics is one of the most difficult areas in language learning in general. The non-native speaker is often completely unaware of the negative view native speakers have about “interlanguage prag- matics” differing markedly from the native language conventions. Inadequate second language prosody in particular is very likely to lead to such negative perceptions (Ellis, 1994). In a study of the tone choice and voice quality of dispreferred turns in the English of Finns by Toivanen and Waaramaa (2005), it was found that rising tones, particularly falling-rising pitch patterns, were rare in the Finnish English second language speech. The non-native speakers did not utilize the typical RP (Received Pronunciation) pitch pattern of “polite dissent” when conveying dis- agreeing semantic/lexical content in their English speech. In native English speech, rising and falling-rising tones are usually expected with dispreferred lexical content to mitigate the point of disagreement (Cruttenden, 1997). Further- more, a relevant finding was that the Finnish English speakers were persistent creakers: the dispreferred turns typically ended with a falling tone with creak phonation towards the end of the speaking turn. It was concluded that the Finnish speakers of English investigated in the study largely transferred the typical falling intonation trend with creak phonation of Finnish into their English speech. The use of these...
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