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Respiratory Control, Pauses, and Tonal Control in L1’s and L2’s Text Reading – A Pilot Study on Swedish and Japanese –

Conference paper
Authors T. Isei-Jaakkola
Yasuko Nagano-Madsen
E. Ochi
Published in Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody. 13-16 June 2018, Poznań, Poland
ISSN 2333-2042
Publisher Speech Prosody Special Interest Group (SProSIG)
Place of publication Poznan, Poland
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Languages and Literatures
Language en
Keywords respiratory muscular control, Swedish L1 and L2, Japanese L1, pauses, syntactic units, tonal (pitch) control
Subject categories Phonetics, Swedish language, East Asian languages


This paper reports the results of a pilot study, which examines the respiratory control exerted by chest and abdominal-muscles during the reading of a long text in the mother tongue (L1) and a targeted foreign language that is being learned (L2), with reference to syntax and prosody in Japanese and Swedish. Three datasets of read speech were obtained from Swedish speakers (SwL1), Swedish learners of Japanese (SwL2), and Japanese speakers (JL1). The results showed that the subjects used respiratory control differently while reading L1 texts and L2 texts, respectively. Both SwL1 and JL1 used chest and abdominal-muscles almost simultaneously, and the peaks of their muscular movements co-occurred at the onset of major syntactic units such as sentences and clauses. SwL2 used more chest muscles than abdominal-muscles, with muscular movements being more frequent, irregular, and small. There was no significant difference between JL1 and Swedish L1 and L2 in terms of the tonal control (pitch range). Some pitch peaks and pauses that appeared at the major syntactic boundaries coincided with the peaks of the muscular movements, but other pitch peaks and pauses did not. These results led to the hypothesis that the acquisition of intonation precedes that of respiratory control in L2 learning.

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