Influence of the native language on sensitivity to lexical stress

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Arabic stress is predictable, varies across words, and does not have a contrastive role, whereas, Hebrew stress although nonpredictable, carries contrastive value. Stress processing was assessed in speakers of the two languages at three processing levels: discrimination, short-term memory, and metalinguistic awareness. In Experiment 1, Arabic speakers with Hebrew as L2 (n = 15) and native Hebrew speakers (n = 15) were tested on discrimination and memory of stress placements. Arabic speakers had fewer correct responses and longer reaction times compared to Hebrew speakers. In Experiment 2, the influence of nonnative language acquisition on metalinguistic awareness of stress was assessed. Arabic speakers (n = 10) were less able to identify stress in their native and nonnative languages compared to Arabic speakers with advanced knowledge of English and Hebrew (n = 10) and Hebrew speakers (n = 10). Our findings support the assumption that variations in stress at the surface level of L1 are insufficient to facilitate awareness and memory for stress placement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-178
Number of pages28
JournalStudies in Second Language Acquisition
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2019


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