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The functional weight of a prosodic cue in the native language predicts the learning of speech segmentation in a second language


This study newly investigates whether the functional weight of a prosodic cue in the native language predicts listeners’ learning and use of that cue in second-language speech segmentation. It compares English and Dutch listeners’ use of fundamental-frequency (F0) rise as a cue to word-final boundaries in French. F0 rise signals word-initial boundaries in English and Dutch, but has a weaker functional weight in English than Dutch because it is more strongly correlated with vowel quality in English than Dutch. English- and Dutch-speaking learners of French matched in French proficiency and experience, and native French listeners completed a visual-world eye-tracking experiment in French where they monitored words ending with/out an F0 rise (replication of Tremblay, Broersma, Coughlin & Choi, 2016). Dutch listeners made earlier/greater use of the F0 rise than English listeners, and in one condition they made greater use of F0 rise than French listeners, extending the cue-weighting theory to speech segmentation.

Corresponding author
Address for Correspondence: Annie Tremblay, Department of Linguistics, University of Kansas, 1541 Lilac Lane, Blake Hall Room 427, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA
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Supplementary material can be found online at

*This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant no. BCS-1423905 awarded to the first author (AT). Support for this research also comes from a Language Learning small research grant awarded to the first author, and a Vidi grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research awarded to the second author (MB). We are grateful to Dr. Amandine Michelas for help with the French listeners’ data collection.

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Bilingualism: Language and Cognition
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  • EISSN: 1469-1841
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