Extrametricality and second language acquisition

Guilherme Duarte Garcia


This paper examines how native English speakers acquire stress in Portuguese. Native speakers and second language learners (L2ers) of any given language have to formulate word-level prosodic generalizations based on a subset of lexical items to which they have been exposed. This subset contains robust as well as subtle cues as to which stress patterns are more or less productive, so that when speakers encounter novel forms they know which stress position is more likely. L2ers, however, face a much more challenging task, mainly if they are adults and have long passed the critical period. These difficulties are particularly notable in word-level prominence, where several interacting phonetic cues are involved. The trends observed across three proficiency levels in the judgement task described in this paper are consistent with a foot-based analysis, and show that L2ers successfully reset extrametricality (Yes in the L1; No in the L2) and shift the default stress position from antepenult (L1) to penult (L2). The latter is expected to follow from the former in a foot-based approach where feet become aligned to the right edge of the word as extrametricality is reset to No.


Portuguese; stress; weight; extrametricality; second language acquisition

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.3765/amp.v3i0.3678

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