Learning to anticipate contrast with prosody: A visual world study with L2 learners

Chie Nakamura*, Jesse A. Harris, Sun Ah Jun

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


This study tested how L2 learners use contrastive accent to anticipate upcoming information during instructed visual search. In two visual-world eye-tracking experiments, we compared the processing patterns between native English speakers and Japanese learners of English. Participants' eye-movements were recorded and analyzed to investigate whether listeners reached the correct target object faster when the sentence carried contrastive accent (L+H*) on the adjective in an adjective-noun pair (e.g., First, find the red cat. Next, find the PURPLEL+H* cat) compared to the condition in which the adjective carried new information accent (H*). The results showed that the use of contrastive L+H* accent led anticipatory looks to the target object both with native speakers and with L2 learners. In addition, the difference between the two types of prosody was increased in the final block of the experiment for L2 learners. This indicates that L2 learners learned to use the contrastive function of prosody in processing more as the experiment advanced by associating the phonetic features of L+H* with a contrastive interpretation with increased exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)867-871
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the International Conference on Speech Prosody
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020 - Tokyo, Japan
Duration: 2020 May 252020 May 28


  • Contrastive accent
  • Learning
  • Prosody
  • Second language processing
  • Visual-world eye-tracking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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