Prosody and Prosodic Transfer in Foreign Language Acquisition:
Cantonese and Japanese
Esther Yuk WahLai
University of Hong Kong
The present volume is an elaborate study of the prosodic system and prosodic transfer effects in two typologically distinct languages, Cantonese and Japanese, which are representative of two big prosodic types, namely, tone language and pitch-accent language. The first part of the study examines the most important features characterizing the overall prosody of each language through a comprehensive review over important issues in the light of present day prosodic and phonological theories as the metrical theory, auto segmental and prosodic phonology etc. The second part focuses on a contrastive study to predict or explain potential areas of prosodic interference in the foreign language classroom of Cantonese and Japanese speakers through postulating a hierarchy of transfer parameters, with empirical verification where necessary.
The study displays its unique contribution in multiple directions: (a)The Cantonese stress/accent hypothesis proposed in the study is the first attempt ever to examine closely the prosodic behaviour of Cantonese, beyond the scope of the lexical tone. (b) The detailed prosodic analyses as presented should greatly facilitate second language learning for Cantonese and Japanese speakers who are both well known to speak a second language with a strong first language accent. (c) The scrutiny of diverse language types revealing universal principles underlying language specific behaviour seems to suggest that barriers between the so called "distinct prosodic types" such as "tonal versus intonation", "rhythm of alternation versus rhythm of succession" can be rather superficial, upon new discovery and new interpretation of their prosodic behaviour.
ISBN 9783895864674. LINCOM Studies in Language Acquisition 08. 340pp. 2002.