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Is second language lexical access prosodically constrained? Processing of word stress by French Canadian second language learners of English

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 October 2008

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE Annie Tremblay, Department of French, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, 2090 Foreign Languages Building, 707 S. Mathews Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801. E-mail:


The objectives of this study are (a) to determine if native speakers of Canadian French at different English proficiencies can use primary stress for recognizing English words and (b) to specify how the second language (L2) learners' (surface-level) knowledge of L2 stress placement influences their use of primary stress in L2 word recognition. Two experiments were conducted: a cross-modal word-identification task investigating (a) and a vocabulary production task investigating (b). The results show that several L2 learners can use primary stress for recognizing English words, but only the L2 learners with targetlike knowledge of stress placement can do so. The results also indicate that knowing where primary stress falls in English words is not sufficient for L2 learners to be able to use stress for L2 lexical access. This suggests that the problem that L2 word stress poses for many native speakers of (Canadian) French is at the level of lexical processing.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2008

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