Influence of L1 prominence on L2 production: French and German speakers

Author(s): Frank Zimmerer, Anne Bonneau and Bistra Andreeva


French and German differ with respect to the representation and implementation of prominence. French can be assumed to have no prominence represented in the mental lexicon and accents are regularly assigned post-lexically on the last full vowel of an accentual group. In German, prominence is considered to be represented lexically. This difference may give rise to interferences when German speakers learn French and French speakers learn German. Results of a judgment task (conducted with 3 trained phoneticians) of native and non-native productions of French learners of German and German learners of French, all of them beginners, show that both groups have not completely acquired the correct suprasegmental structures in the respective L2, since both groups are worse concerning the correct placement of prominence than the native speakers. Furthermore, the results suggest that the native pattern is one of the most important factors for wrong prominence placements in the foreign language, e.g., if the prominence placement of L1 and L2 coincide, speakers produce the smallest amount of errors. Finally, results indicate that visual display of accented syllables increases the likelihood of correct accent placement significantly.