Perception of accentual focus by Basque L2 learners of English
María Luisa García
This paper reflects and discusses the results of English accentual focus perception by native English listeners vs. Basque learners of English. Two focus structures were studied: focus on subject and focus on verb. Twenty native English listeners and twenty native Basque speakers took part in two different types of test: identification and naturalness ratings of focus in English sentences. There were two kinds of focus identification test: half the listeners did a multiple choice test, whereas the other half took and open test. The results show that, as was expected, Basque learners had more problems in identifying focus than native speakers. This trend was much more pronounced in the case of verb focus. For both groups of listener verb focus was more difficult to identify and considered to be less natural. Basque listeners rated subject focus in English as even more natural than native listeners did. Some of these results are probably due to first language interference since pre-verbal focus is the neutral case in Basque. However the difference in performance by Basque listeners in multiple choice and open test must be partly due to differences between their passive and active knowledge of English. In the case of verb focus it may be that this difference is also present in their knowledge of their native language and transferred to their multiple choice and open test performance: listeners may understand focus on verb in Basque even if they do not use it often themselves.
García, María Luisa. 1995. «Perception of Accentual Focus by Basque L2 Learners of English». Anuario Del Seminario De Filología Vasca "Julio De Urquijo" 29 (2-3):581-98. https://doi.org/10.1387/asju.8497.
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