Is there an interlanguage intelligibility benefit in perception of English word stress?
Keywords:interlanguage intelligibility benefit, word-stress, perception, L2 English, L1 Arabic
This paper asks whether there is an ‘interlanguage intelligibility benefit’ in perception of word-stress, as has been reported for global sentence recognition. L1 English listeners, and L2 English listeners who are L1 speakers of Arabic dialects from Jordan and Egypt, performed a binary forced-choice identification task on English near-minimal pairs (such as[ˈɒbdʒɛkt] ~ [əbˈdʒɛkt]) produced by an L1 English speaker, and two L2 English speakers from Jordan and Egypt respectively. The results show an overall advantage for L1 English listeners, which replicates the findings of an earlier study for general sentence recognition, and which is also consistent with earlier findings that L1 listeners rely more on structural knowledge than on acoustic cues in stress perception. Non-target-like L2 productions of words with final stress (which are primarily cued in L1 production by vowel reduction in the initial unstressed syllable) were less accurately recognized by L1 English listeners than by L2 listeners, but there was no evidence of a generalized advantage for L2 listeners in response to other L2 stimuli.
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