Non-native perception of final boundary tones in French interrogatives

TitleNon-native perception of final boundary tones in French interrogatives
Publication TypeArticle dans des actes
Année de la conférence2014
AuthorsSantiago Vargas, Fabián, Paolo Mairano, and Élisabeth Delais-Roussarie
EditorCampbell, N., and Daniel Hirst
Nom de la conférenceProceedings of the 7th International Conference Speech Prosody 2014
Date de publication2014
Conference LocationDublin
Other NumbersISSN 2333-2042
KeywordsL2 acquisition, L2 intonation

The aim of the paper is to present the results of a perception experiment in which native and non-native listeners were asked to rate the appropriateness of resynthesized questions varying in respect to two aspects: their morphosyntactic structure (presence/absence of an interrogative marker) and the form of their final intonational contour (falling, rising and extra-rising). The goal of the experiment was to examine how non-native listeners of French did perceive the extra-rising final contour that was observed in learners’ productions. Do they consider it as appropriate even if it did not occur often in the native speakers’ productions? By and large, the results of the experiment show that native listeners preferred rising contours over falling ones in all question types, whereas non- native listeners rated the extra rising contours higher than French natives in stimuli having a morphosyntactic structure that differs from the one used in their L1. These results may suggest that rising contours represent a default tonal form associated with the interrogative modality not only at the beginning of the L2 acquisition process, but also in speakers’ mental representation, irrespective of their L1.