Online acquisition of Cairene Arabic word stress patterns over time
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 15:55 authored by Tamara Schembri
Adult learners often experience difficulty in attaining fluency in all aspects of a second language (L2). The L2 acquisition of main word stress is especially challenging, and incorrect production may lead to significant miscommunication. Yet, relatively little research on L2 prosodic acquisition has been conducted. Additionally, most of this research focuses on English and other European languages, limiting our understanding of the acquisition of other stress systems.These studies contribute to this understanding by studying the L2 acquisition of the Cairene Arabic stress system. Artificial Language Learning research methodology was combined with real Cairene Arabic input. Adult American English speakers with no previous experience of any other Semitic language were taught the Cairene Arabic stress system. In Chapter 3, patterns of acquisition similar to prior studies were observed, such as L1 transfer and overgeneralization, confirming that this is a viable method for studying beginning L2 acquisition. The experiment in Chapter 4 aimed to test the 'less is more' hypothesis in the domain of prosodic acquisition. The results in this experiment demonstrated that participants performed better when presented with random stimuli, as compared to initially limited stimuli which gradually increased in complexity. This showed that the 'less is more' hypothesis does not hold for the narrow domain of main stress acquisition. These experiments were made possible by the use of Amazon Mechanical Turk (AMT), allowing a large number of participants to be tested quickly and cheaply. The studies in this thesis were conducted over the course of 4 days. However, online longitudinal experiments are difficult to conduct. While designing the above studies, a software solution called Longi was developed (Chapter 2), which simplifies the process significantly. It is hoped that the development of this software will enable more online longitudinal studies to be conducted.