This study investigates the prosodic marking of focus in non-native German. Ten proficient learners of German with Italian L1 were recorded reading aloud 40 sentences containing mostly non-final focused constituents embedded in an adequate question context. Non-final focus accents in L2 German are difficult for Italian learners to produce, especially in broad focus contexts with de-accentuation of final verb forms (cf. Paschke/Vogt, in press), because their native language has a strong positional requirement of rightmostness. Given that both German and Italian use pitch accents for information structuring, i. e. to highlight important information, a correct placement of focus accents might, however, be favoured by narrow focus contexts in which prosodic prominence has to be assigned to one specific constituent. In addition to this main hypothesis, the study investigated whether additional clues (such as prosodic highlighting of the relevant constituent in the L2 question, a corresponding syntactic and prosodic structure between L1 and L2) might increase the success rate. The data shows that advanced Italian speakers of German L2 correctly realize non-final focus accents in more than half of the narrow focus contexts, but that their success rate is not significantly higher than in the broad focus condition and is not affected by the additional clues provided.

Non-Final Focus Accents in The Speech of Advanced Italian Learners of German

Vogt Barbara
2015

Abstract

This study investigates the prosodic marking of focus in non-native German. Ten proficient learners of German with Italian L1 were recorded reading aloud 40 sentences containing mostly non-final focused constituents embedded in an adequate question context. Non-final focus accents in L2 German are difficult for Italian learners to produce, especially in broad focus contexts with de-accentuation of final verb forms (cf. Paschke/Vogt, in press), because their native language has a strong positional requirement of rightmostness. Given that both German and Italian use pitch accents for information structuring, i. e. to highlight important information, a correct placement of focus accents might, however, be favoured by narrow focus contexts in which prosodic prominence has to be assigned to one specific constituent. In addition to this main hypothesis, the study investigated whether additional clues (such as prosodic highlighting of the relevant constituent in the L2 question, a corresponding syntactic and prosodic structure between L1 and L2) might increase the success rate. The data shows that advanced Italian speakers of German L2 correctly realize non-final focus accents in more than half of the narrow focus contexts, but that their success rate is not significantly higher than in the broad focus condition and is not affected by the additional clues provided.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11697/134744
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