Focus prosody in Japanese-English early bilinguals: A pilot study

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Typologically, some languages mark narrow focus with 'post-focus compression' (PFC) while others do not. For those which do, PFC is easily lost through bilingualism, at both societal and individual levels. At the societal level, when in contact with a - PFC language (e.g. Southern Min), a likely +PFC language can lose this prosodic feature (e.g. Taiwan Mandarin) [1]; at the individual level, for bilingual speakers of a +PFC (e.g. Mandarin) and a -PFC (e.g. Southern Min) language, age plays a role in whether they can produce PFC in Mandarin or not [2].
In the latter case, however, the effect of contact and the apparent role of age cannot be teased apart. To better understand how individual characteristics (e.g. age) affect PFC realisation, this study analysed Japanese-English bilinguals, whose two languages are both +PFC. We recruited six early bilingual speakers to complete a speech production task [3] to see if they would produce PFC after narrow focus in Japanese. The results showed that the biracial speakers living in the United Kingdom manifested clear evidence of PFC, whereas another ethnic Japanese speaker who grew up in Japan but identified herself as English-dominant failed to produce PFC. The implications of these findings are discussed. Copyright © 2020 International Speech Communications Association. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)843-847
JournalSpeech Prosody
Publication statusPublished - 2020


Lee, A., & Xu, Y. (2020). Focus prosody in Japanese-English early bilinguals: A pilot study. Speech Prosody, 2020, 833-837. doi: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-172


  • Bilingualism
  • English
  • Focus
  • Japanese


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