Intonational phrasing in a third language: The production of German by Cantonese-English bilingual learners

Author(s): Yanjiao Zhu and Peggy P. K. Mok


This study looks at intonational phrasing patterns in read speech produced by third language (L3) learners of German who speak Cantonese as the first language (L1) and English as the second language (L2). Acoustic analyses of recordings from 15 L3 learners and 10 native German speakers revealed that intonational phrasing in L3 German was different from that of natives in that 1) L3 learners produced shorter intonational phrases (IP), a few of which were semantically or syntactically incomplete. 2) IP boundary in L3 speech was mainly realized as pause and pitch reset, whereas IP boundary realization in native production was more variegated. 3) Learners used low boundary tones in both continuation and finality statements, while natives adopted high/mid boundary tones for continuation. The study gains insights from and extends the recently developed L2 Intonation Learning theory and offers a multidimensional explanation for phonological acquisition from a third language acquisition perspective.