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Plasticity of Native Intonation in the L1 of English Migrants to Austria

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posted on 22.09.2022, 14:07 authored by Ineke Mennen, Ulrich Reubold, Kerstin Endes, Robert Mayr

 This study examines the plasticity of native language intonation in English-Austrian Ger-man sequential bilinguals who have migrated to Austria in adulthood by comparing it to that ofmonolingual English and monolingual Austrian control speakers. Intonation was analysed along fourintonation dimensions proposed by the L2 Intonation Learning theory (LILt): the inventory of cate-gorical phonological elements (‘systemic’ dimension), their phonetic implementation (‘realizational’),the meaning associated with phonological elements (‘semantic’), and their frequency of use (‘fre-quency’). This allowed us to test whether each intonation dimension is equally permeable to L2-on-L1influences.  The results revealed L2-on-L1 effects on each dimension.  These consistently took theform of assimilation. The extent of assimilation appeared to depend on whether the cross-languagedifferences were gradient or categorical, with the former predominantly resulting in intermediatemerging and the latter in a complete transfer.  The results suggest that native intonation remainsplastic in all its dimensions, resulting in pervasive modifications towards the L2. Finally, in this firstapplication of the LILt to the context of L1 attrition, the study confirms the model’s suitability notonly to acquisition of L2 intonation but also for predicting where modifications of L1 intonation arelikely to occur. 


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Mennen, I., Reubold, U., Endes, K., & Mayr, R. (2022) 'Plasticity of Native Intonation in the L1 of English Migrants to Austria', Languages, 7(3), 241. doi: 10.3390/languages7030241

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Cardiff Met Affiliation

Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences

Cardiff Met Authors

Robert Mayr

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • Speech, Hearing and Communication

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© The Authors