An Exploration of Word Stress in Hong Kong English. Cathy S.P. Wong

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1 An Exploration of Word Stress in Hong Kong English Cathy S.P. Wong

2 Introduction The focus in pronunciation studies is normally on the segmental rather than the supra-segmental features. Yet, it is often found that deviant stress placement easily lead to miscomprehension (Anderson-Hsieh, Johnson & Koehler 1992; Benrabah 1997; Derwing & Munro 2005; Field 2005; Hahn 2004; Kang, Rubin & Pickering 2010; Low and Grabe 1999; Magen 1999). 2 Word Stress in HKE -Cathy S.P. Wong

3 Word Stress in English (1) English word stress is an intricate phonetic and phonological phenomenon. It intertwines knowledge at: the word level, the phrase level, and the sentence level The phonetic details involve these articulatory and acoustic correlates (Fry 1955; Ladefoged 2003): vowel length, loudness, pitch change, and vowel reduction. 3 Word Stress in HKE -Cathy S.P. Wong

4 Word Stress in English (2) At the word level, every English word has a fixed stress pattern. Two morphologically related words may sound quite different: e.g. consultation (/kənsʌlˈteɪʃən/) VS consultative (/kənˈsʌltətɪv/) In HKE, the word consultative is frequently stressed like consultation, with the third syllable stressed with the diphthong /eɪ/ (i.e. */kənsʌlˈteɪtɪv/), which is unlike most major varieties of English. 4 Word Stress in HKE -Cathy S.P. Wong

5 Issues in Word Stress in HKE Are the use of articulatory and acoustic cues in HKE similar to those found in other varieties of English? What is the relation between English word stress and Cantonese lexical tones? From the phonological point of view, what are the stress patterns in HKE? What are the factors determining how HKE speakers place the primary stress in English words? 5 Word Stress in HKE -Cathy S.P. Wong

6 Studies on Word Stress in HKE (1) The studies on HKE (Deterding, Wong and Kirkpatrick 2008; Hung 2000; Setter, Wong and Chan 2010; Sewell and Chan 2010; Stibbard 2004) have focussed on the consonantal and vocalic features. Word stress, albeit its crucial role in communication and intelligibility, has not yet been thoroughly researched in HKE. Stibbard (2004: 133) laments that the failure to distinguish stressed and unstressed syllables aggravates miscommunication. 6 Word Stress in HKE -Cathy S.P. Wong

7 Studies on Word Stress in HKE (2) Luke and Richards (1982: 59-60) are probably the first to point out the stress issue in HKE. They briefly mention that [u]nstressed syllables... receive stress, with the result that the neutralized schwa /ә/ is given full value and that [t]he characteristic stress-timed rhythm of English is often ignored, and the characteristic Chinese syllable-timed rhythm is superimposed on segments instead. 7 Word Stress in HKE -Cathy S.P. Wong

8 Studies on Word Stress in HKE (3) Bolton and Kwok (1990: 154) have also observed that in HKE most syllables tend to retain their separate identities, and that the opposition between strong and weak syllables is largely leveled, especially between content words and function words. 8 Word Stress in HKE -Cathy S.P. Wong

9 Studies on Word Stress in HKE (4) The first systematic study on the phonological aspects of word stress in HKE is Wong (1991). She argues that HKE speakers are sensitive to most of the phonological elements involved in word stress placement: the rime structures, grammatical categories, and the number of syllables. However, Archibald (1997), Luke (2000) and Hung (2005) believe that word stress in HKE is stored in the lexicon rather than deduced by metrical rules. 9 Word Stress in HKE -Cathy S.P. Wong

10 Studies on Word Stress in HKE (5) Two studies (Chan 2011; Lee 2002) have included follow-up interviews with the subjects of their studies after they had performed on a task of reading aloud suffixed words and both found similar responses. Their subjects tended to use analogy in trying to place stress in a new word, which lends support to the claim that stress is stored in the lexicon. 10 Word Stress in HKE -Cathy S.P. Wong

11 Studies on Word Stress in HKE (6) Luke (2000) suggests that stress patterns in English words are re-interpreted as lexical tones. According to Luke, stressed syllables are assigned high (H) tones while the unstressed syllables are marked as a mid (M) or low (L) tone. Luke (2008) further elaborates on these tonal assignment rules. 11 Word Stress in HKE -Cathy S.P. Wong

12 Studies on Word Stress in HKE (7) Wee s (2008) and Cheung s (2008) proposals of tonal assignment in HKE word stress argue along a similar line, using the frameworks of the autosegmental and optimality theories. The issue of whether and how word stress placement in HKE is re-interpreted as tonal assignment is subject to further investigation, which is one of the aims of the present study. 12 Word Stress in HKE -Cathy S.P. Wong

13 Studies on Word Stress in HKE (8) Another interesting issue in English word stress is the relation between stress placement and suffixation. Two studies (Lee 2002; Leung 2006) have examined the effects of suffixation on word stress in HKE, with conflicting results. 13 Word Stress in HKE -Cathy S.P. Wong

14 Studies on Word Stress in HKE (9) Lee (2002) finds that suffixation tends to facilitate rather than impede word stress placement. However, Leung (2008) finds that suffixes that involve shifting the primary stress lead to deviant pronunciation. Since the two studies employ different suffixes as test items, further investigation into the relation between suffixation and word stress in HKE is needed. 14 Word Stress in HKE -Cathy S.P. Wong

15 Studies on Word Stress in HKE (10) In terms of the phonetic realization of word stress in HKE, Wong (1990) reports that some speakers did not produce the expected phonetic correlates associated with word stress. Doubly-stressed items were a common feature found in these speakers, which is a major characteristic of HKE. 15 Word Stress in HKE -Cathy S.P. Wong

16 Studies on Word Stress in HKE (11) Wong (2004, 2011) further compares the use of the three phonetic cues (length, loudness and pitch) by HKE speakers with an RP speaker: while pitch is a reliable indicator of word stress in the RP speaker s production, this is not the case among the HKE speakers. These echo the findings in Setter (2000) and Deterding, Wong and Kirkpatrick (2008). Both studies comment that they do not consistently use the expected reduced vowel in unstressed syllables. 16 Word Stress in HKE -Cathy S.P. Wong

17 Research Questions (1) What are the phonological features (i.e. syllable structure, the number of syllables, grammatical categories, and suffixation) of word stress that are characteristic of HKE? (2) How do speakers of HKE realize word stress phonetically (i.e. duration, pitch change, and intensity)? (3) Is word stress reinterpreted as tonal assignment in HKE? Are English words consistently produced with the same pitch pattern regardless of their relative prominence in an utterance? 17 Word Stress in HKE -Cathy S.P. Wong

18 Research Design & Methodology An experimental design to investigate the different phonological variables (e.g. number of syllables, suffixes, etc.) as well as the phonetic realization of stress A battery of test words and phrases will be used to prompt the speakers to produce speech samples which will be audiorecorded. 18 Word Stress in HKE -Cathy S.P. Wong

19 Battery of Tests: A Section A: Interaction between the number of syllable and grammatical categories Noun/Adjective Verb 2-sylllable examples IMport, ABstract import, abstract 3-syllable examples INterview INterview 19 Word Stress in HKE -Cathy S.P. Wong

20 Battery of Tests: B Section B: The effects of syllable structure Syllable structure Examples of 2- syllable verbs heavy-heavy donate, maintain heavy-light light-heavy light-light ORder, Open enjoy, elect DIffer, rebel 20 Word Stress in HKE -Cathy S.P. Wong

21 Battery of Tests: C Section C: Effects of suffixation Types of suffixes Examples stress-neutral refuse ~ refusal; NEIGHbour ~ NEIGHbourhood stress-attracting japan ~ japanese; INterview ~ interviewee stress-shifting PHOtograph ~ photography; FInal ~ finality 21 Word Stress in HKE -Cathy S.P. Wong

22 Battery of Tests: D Section D: Tonal assignment or stress placement? Some of the test words in Part A to Part C will be put in phrases and sentences to investigate if the pitch patterns will vary. INterview (citation form, stress on the first syllable) PAnel (citation form, stress on the first syllable) the INterview panel (falling tone with nuclear stress on the first syllable of interview) the interview panel is HUGE (falling tone with nuclear stress on the word huge) 22 Word Stress in HKE -Cathy S.P. Wong

23 Procedure Subjects 100 HKE subjects 10 speakers of RP/GA. Procedure and Analysis Subjects read aloud the batteary of test items Audio recording in a sound-proof room The recorded speech samples will then be listened to by 3 raters and they identify the primary stress. The data will then be transcribed and analyzed by using PRAAT (Boersma & Weenink 2010). 23 Word Stress in HKE -Cathy S.P. Wong

24 Expected Results? To be continued Word Stress in HKE -Cathy S.P. Wong

25 Suggestions for Improvement? Suggestions most welcome! 25 Word Stress in HKE -Cathy S.P. Wong

26 Selected References (1) Bolton, K. & Kwok, H. (1990). The dynamics of the Hong Kong accent: social identity and sociolinguistic description. Journal of Asian Pacific Communication 1(1), Chan, S.C.J. (2011). Revisiting Lexical Stress in Hong Kong English (HKE) from a 3 rd Perspective: Analogy. M.A. Research project. Hong Kong: The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Cheung, W.H.Y. (2008). Span of High Tones in Hong Kong English. HKBU Papers in Applied Language Studies 12, Deterding, D., Wong, J. & Kirkpatrick, A. (2008). The pronunciation of Hong Kong English. English World Wide 29(2), Hung, T.T.N. (2000). Towards a phonology of Hong Kong English. World Englishes 19(3), Hung, T.T.N. (2005). Word Stress in Hong Kong English: A Preliminary Study. HKBU Papers in Applied Language Studies 9, Word Stress in HKE -Cathy S.P. Wong

27 Selected References (2) Lee, H.M. (2002). How do some Cantonese-speaking English Learners Handle Word Stress. M.A. thesis, Department of English, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Leung, M.M.G. (2006). The Patterns of English Word Stress by Hong Kong ESL Learners. M.A. Research paper. The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Luke, K-k. (2000). Phonological Re-interpretation: The Assignment of Cantonese Tones to English Words. ICCL-9, National University of Singapore. Luke, K-k. (2008). Stress and intonation in Hong Kong English. Paper given at the 14 th International Association of Word Englishes conference. City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Luke, K-k. & Richards, J.C. (1982). English in Hong Kong: functions and status. English World-wide 3, Penington, M.C. & Ellis, N.C. (2000). Cantonese Speakers Memory for English Sentences with Prosodic Cues. The Modern Language Journal 84(3), Word Stress in HKE -Cathy S.P. Wong

28 Selected References (3) Setter, J.E. (2000). Rhythm and Timing in Hong Kong English. Ph.D. thesis. Reading: University of Reading. Setter, J.E., Wong, C.S.P. & Chan, B.H.S. (2010). Hong Kong English. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press. Wee, L-H. (2008). Phonological patterns in the Englishes of Singapore and Hong Kong. World Englishes 27(3/4), Wong, C.S.P. (1991a). The Acquisition of English Word Stress by Cantonese-speaking ESL Learners. M.Ph. thesis. The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Wong, C.S.P. (1991b). The Stress Patterns of Nonsense English Words of Cantonese-speaking ESL Learners. CUHK Papers in Linguistics, No. 3, Wong, C.S.P. (2004). Does Cantonese Lexical Tone Affect the Acquisition of English Word Stress? ALAK (Applied Linguistics Association of Korea) International Conference conference handbook: Hanyang University, Seoul, South Korea. Wong, C.S.P. (2011). When Cantonese Tones Meet English Word Stress in Hong Kong English. In Proceedings of the Psycholinguistic Representation of Tone Conference, pp Hong Kong: Linguistic Society of Hong Kong. 28 Word Stress in HKE -Cathy S.P. Wong

29 29 Word Stress in HKE -Cathy S.P. Wong

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