The Development of L2 Prosody in Japanese Speakers of English: A Quasi-longitudinal Study

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)



Date of Award

Summer 2018


In this dissertation, I present the development of English prosody use in production and perception tasks by native Japanese speakers of English (JPs). Previous studies have shown that prosody is a crucial component in verbal interactions (Pickering, 2001) and affects comprehensibility, fluency, and accentedness (Kang, O., 2010; Trofimovich & Baker, 2006). However, a smaller number of studies has been conducted in understanding the development of English prosody use by JPs over time and what factors may affect the development of their production and perception of prosodic features. Considering this gap, I examined English prosody manipulation by JPs over time using a mixed quasi-longitudinal research design with the emphasis on quantitative analysis. The participants included 31 native speakers of English (NSs) as a control group (Male = 8, Female = 23) and 93 JPs with 3 different proficiency levels (Male = 41, Female = 52) that were based on their length of residence in the United States with age of arrival held consistent. The participants completed 2 production tasks and 1 perception task. For the production tasks, 2 data-eliciting techniques were used: a read–aloud protocol and a spontaneous speech. For the perception task, the Profiling Elements of Prosody in Speech- Communication (PEPS-C; Peppé & McCann, 2003) software was used. The production data sets were analyzed auditorily and instrumentally, and pause measurements, rate measurements, stress measurements, and intonation (Kang, O., & Pickering, 2011) were examined. The data sets of both the production and perception tasks were statistically analyzed. The results of statistical analyses for the production tasks indicated that a combination of prominence characteristics strongly discriminated between the speaker groups. The results also showed that the production of tone, rate, and stress measures were other significant factors that discriminated between the speaker groups. The results for the perception task showed that none of the JPs met the NSs in perceiving interpersonal and informationally marked intonation patterns. In conclusion, the overall results indicated that length of residence partially accounts for the development of a second language (L2) prosody performance and that socially constructed prosodic cues should be taught explicitly in the classroom. They also indicated that more attention should be given to perception in L2 prosody acquisition as Flege (1995) claimed that accurate perception leads to accurate production.


Lucy Pickering

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | English Language and Literature