This study investigates the use of prosodic information in the segmentation of French speech by mid-level and high-level English second/foreign language (L2) learners of French and native French listeners. The results of two word-monitoring tasks, one with natural stimuli and one with resynthesized stimuli, show that as L2 learners become more proficient in French, they go from parsing accented syllables as word-initial to parsing them as word-final, but unlike native listeners, they use duration increase but not fundamental frequencyx (F0) rise as a cue to word-final boundaries. These results are attributed to: (1) the L2 learners' native language, in which F0 rise is a reliable cue to word-initial boundaries but not word-final boundaries; (2) the co-occurrence of F0 and duration cues in word-final syllables in French, rendering L2 learners' use of F0 rise unnecessary for locating word-final boundaries; and (3) the optional marking of word-initial boundaries by F0 cues in French, thus making it difficult for non-native listeners to tease the two types of F0 rise apart. We argue that these factors prevent English listeners from attending to F0 rise as a cue to word-final boundaries in French, irrespective of their proficiency in French.
© by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston