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Acquisition of Second Language Prosody and the Role of Prosody in Discourse: A Study of English Speakers’ Korean and Korean Speakers’ English


This dissertation investigates the acquisition of second language (L2) prosody (e.g.,

intonation, stress, rhythm) in native English speakers’ Korean and native Korean speakers’

English based on the Autosegmental-Metrical (AM) framework. Specifically, by comparing

prosodic characteristics of the first language (L1) and L2, this study examines how L2 speakers

negotiate meanings in discourse (e.g., signal turn-taking and convey various pragmatic

meanings) through intonation and co-occurring grammatical resources, and why the speech of L2

speakers sounds foreign. There is a lack of understanding of the role of L2 prosody at the

discourse level. Considerable research focuses on L2 prosody in made-up sentences, failing to

explain meaning negotiation conveyed through prosody. Moreover, few studies have used

appropriate prosodic frameworks when describing prosodic errors of L2 speech.

In this dissertation, Korean L2 data were collected from 12 oral proficiency interviews

(OPI) between Korean L2 interviewees and a native Korean interviewer; four interviews with

native Korean speakers served as controls. English L2 data were collected from 12 oral

proficiency tests designed for international teaching assistants at the University of California,

Los Angeles; three presentations by native English speakers served as controls. The data were

labeled using the Korean TOnes and Break Indices (K-ToBI, Jun 1993, 2000, 2005) and

Mainstream American English (MAE) ToBI (Pierrehumbert, 1980; Beckman & Pierrehumbert,

1986; Beckman et al. 2005) transcription systems. Analysis revealed that L2 speakers at different

proficiency levels (i.e., intermediate and advanced) were able to use prosody to signal turn

continuations but more advanced speakers were better at using prosody to convey various

pragmatic meanings appropriate to the conversational context. However, the foreign accents or

error types in prosody were frequent in L2 production at both proficiency levels, suggesting later

acquisition of these features.

This study introduces how the AM framework can be used to analyze L2 prosody in

discourse. The study further suggests crosslinguistic similarities in the acquisition order between

prosody associated with pragmatic meanings and prosody associated with nonpragmatic


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