Interlanguage variation in pitch and forms of English negatives: The case of Japanese speakers of English
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis study investigates systematic L2 variation in the level of prosody through analysis on six Japanese advanced ESL speakers' variable use of pitch prominence/non-prominence on and the contraction forms of not negatives (e.g., it isn't, it's not, it is not). Variable use of pitch and the forms of negatives was analyzed in terms of sociolinguistic strategies that fluent English L2 speakers should use to differentiate emphasis on negatives according to social contexts. The study examined the effects of 16 linguistic and sociolinguistic variables/factors on the L2 negative variation, and compared the results with equivalent data shown by L1 American-English speakers (Deckert & Yaeger-Dror, 1999; Yaeger-Dror, 1985, 1996, 1997), and by L1 Japanese speakers (Takano, 2001). Each ESL participant had interview conversations with four L1 American-English speakers who were varied by sex and status. The participants also read aloud passages from two American novels. These speech samples (approximately 27-hour speech) were audio-taped and transcribed to extract not negative tokens. In all, 1,329 negative tokens were used for analysis. Pitch was analyzed using a speech analysis computer program, and coded tokens were processed by the VARBRUL program for the variable rule analysis. The results showed that the L2 negative variation was constrained by immediate linguistic environments but not by sociolinguistic variables except for the reading versus conversation variable. This finding exhibited a sharp contrast with the variation patterns of both L1 English and L1 Japanese, where social contexts such as the interactive uses (pragmatic meanings) of negatives, interactional situations, and social identities of speakers and interlocutors clearly constrain the negative variation. The results also suggested that the L2 speakers' negative variation patterns were influenced by language developmental processes rather than by language or cultural transfer. The study concludes that it is important to have L2 English speakers notice sociolinguistic strategies in negative use through instruction, since development of competence in this feature will not otherwise be acquired.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Second Language Acquisition and Teaching