|Title:||First language attrition and second language attainment of Mandarin-speaking immigrants in Hong Kong : evidence from prosodic focus|
|Advisors:||Chen, Si (CBS)|
Fung, Roxana (CBS)
Chinese language -- Versification
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
|Department:||Department of Chinese and Bilingual Studies|
|Pages:||xii, 168 pages : color illustrations|
|Abstract:||In the field of bilingual language development, studies on first language (L1) attrition and second language (L2) attainment have been two separate streams of research. The present thesis represents an attempt to link L1 attrition and L2 attainment and aims to investigate the language development of new immigrants in Hong Kong in depth from the perspective of phonetics, which will increase our understanding of the issues involved in L1 and L2 speech interaction.|
Two experiments were conducted with native speakers of Mandarin and Cantonese and with Mandarin-speaking immigrants who had learned Cantonese after their arrival in Hong Kong. In the production experiment, the participants answered questions that elicited various types of focus in Mandarin and Cantonese. The speakers of Mandarin and Cantonese exhibited differences in the use of acoustic cues in marking focus in their native languages. The immigrants' data suggested the bidirectional influences of their L1 and L2, which were reflected in the acoustic measurements of F0, duration and intensity compared to the same metrics for the native speakers. In the perception experiment, the participants were instructed to map between prosody and focus. The results did not show any attrition of the immigrants' L1 Mandarin, and the immigrants showed even higher accuracy rates than native speakers in the Cantonese tasks, which was attributed to a potential bilingual advantage in speech perception, particularly for the perception of prosody.
Examining the combined results, there was evidence of L1 Mandarin attrition in production but not in perception, and the immigrants were more attuned to acoustic cues than the native Cantonese speakers. As the existing speech learning models cannot explain our data adequately, we proposed a working model (the Bilingual Prosody Transfer Model, or BPTM) to account for the findings of this thesis and to provide a reference for future work on the prosody of bilingual speakers, which requires further testing and refinement. Moreover, to understand the issues surrounding language attrition and acquisition in more detail, future research should explore the developmental sequences of immigrants' L1 and L2, include more language pairs, measure other aspects of speech and language and consider individual variations in speech production and perception.
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