Cross-Linguistic Comparison of the Pitch and Temporal Profiles between L1 and Chinese L2 Speakers of Spanish
Keywords:Pitch span, pitch variability, temporal features, Chinese speakers of L2 Spanish
Cross-linguistic studies between intonational languages suggest that there is a universal trend during the L2 learning process regarding pitch and temporal characteristics. We extend these hypotheses to Chinese learners of Peninsular Spanish-a new pairing of tone and non-tone languages. Using six pitch and temporal metrics, we examine how Chinese learners’ pitch and temporal profiles deviated from those of L1 native speakers and explore the factors that may contribute to L2 speech deviations. The Discourse Completion Task was conducted to elicit five question types produced by 37 participants, who were divided into three language groups. Consistent with previous literature, our study shows that Chinese L2 learners had a compression of pitch span (at both the utterance and syllable levels) and pitch variability, as well as a strong reduction of pitch change rate, speech rate, and articulation rate compared to L1 Spanish speakers. Most pitch and temporal deviations in L2 Spanish intonation are closely linked to psychological and cognitive attributes rather than being determined by physiological factors or L1 tonal transfer. Moreover, the lack of prosodic knowledge of the target intonation patterns concerning the different question types may also hinder L2 learners from approaching a native-like pitch and temporal profile.
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