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Perception of foreign languages word prosody in the croatian four pitch-accent system


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Pletikos, Elenmari. (2005). Perception of foreign languages word prosody in the croatian four pitch-accent system. Govor : časopis za fonetiku, 22(2). pp. 89-126. ISSN 0352-7565

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The aim of this study is to investigate how word accents from stress-accent languages (American English, German, Czech), pitch-accent languages (Lithuanian, Swedish, Slovene, Croatian Čakavian) and tone languages (Mandarin Chinese, Thai) are perceived by Croatian listeners with a four pitch-accent system. Perception tests were carried out on a selected group of listeners (N=31) who had more than 94% of correct answers in the pre-testing of recognising the four Croatian accents. After listening to the foreign word twice, Croatian subjects made the choice to which of the four Croatian accents (long falling, short falling, long rising, short rising) the foreign word prosody was most similar. Results show that isolated words with long vowels from English, German and Czech are associated with the Croatian long accents, and words with short vowels mostly with the Croatian short accents. Words with long vowels from all stress-accent languages Croatian listeners match to the rising (short and long) pitch accents (Am. English 69,9%, German 72%, Czech 68,3%). The main reason for the perception of an ascending tone contour could be the tone feature of focus marking. The tone feature of neutral focus marking in stress-accent languages can be variable (flat, falling or rising) while in Croatian as a neutral it has to be realised as falling. Swedish accents (accent 1 and accent 2) are not grouped: both accents are associated with the Croatian accent patterns most different from each other (39% with the short rising, and more than 25% with the long rising). Lithuanian circumflex in around 60% of words is perceived as rising (46,8% as long rising, 12,9% as short rising), while Lithuanian acute in more than 70% of tokens is perceived as similar to the Croatian falling accents. With respect to the duration feature, Slovene acute matches both the Croatian long accents (47,8%) and the short accent (52,2%), Slovene circumflex is matched more to the short accents (83,3%). With respect to the tone feature, Slovene acute is perceived as similar to the rising tones (85,5%), and circumflex to the falling tones (59,7%). Čakavian acute is mostly associated with the Štokavian long rising accent (86,3%). Chinese tone 1 (high tone level) is perceived as Croatian rising tones (71,5%, mostly as short rising), tone 2 (high rising) is also perceived as rising (83%, mostly as long rising), tone 4 (high falling) is perceived as falling (76%, mostly as short falling) and tone 3 (so-called low-dipping, which changes from modal to creaky phonation type) in 57% is perceived as similar and matched to the Croatian long rising, and in 21% to the short falling. Thai long vowels are perceived as Croatian long, and short vowels as Croatian short accents (>90%). Thai high tone in 90% of words and Thai rising tone in 87% of words are perceived as Croatian long rising, Thai falling tone, mid tone and low tone are in more than 80% of words perceived as Croatian falling pitch-accents. These results of perception similarity can help us to compare results of acoustic analysis of acute-accent in different pitch-accent languages. Furthermore, these results can be useful for application in foreign language teaching. For Croatian students who learn foreign languages with lexical pitch-accents or tones it will be easier to know which accent can mach the specific Croatian accent, and which is not similar and needs special effort in learning.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: perception of prosody, foreign words, four pitch-accent system, accents, the Croatian language, accentuation
Subjects: Phonetics
Departments: Department of Phonetics
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2013 10:40
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2013 10:40

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