First Advisor

Jeanette DeCarrico

Term of Graduation

Spring 1996

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages


Applied Linguistics




English language -- Intonation, English language -- Study and teaching -- Japanese speakers



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 151 pages)


Typically, most native speakers of Japanese, who have been taught English in Japan, have had limited exposure to prosodic features of English. Consequently, their ability to understand the meaning of different intonation patterns is limited as well. Though it is generally accepted that intonation plays a crucial role in English communication, comprehensive pedagogical materials for teaching English intonation to native speakers of Japanese are not widely available or used in Japan. This is, in part, due to the complexity of English prosodic features and their abstractness. A better understanding of these barriers requires that the extent and the nature of native speakers of Japanese' understanding of English intonation be explored.

The scope of this study is restricted to the examination of the following questions: (1) How well, compared with native speakers of English, can Japanese adult learners comprehend intonation patterns of English? (2) Are there any patterns in their misinterpretations of test sentences, according to three types of errors: paraphrase, categorization, or attitudinal judgments? (3) Can Japanese learners who comprehend one variation of intonation also interpret correctly the same sentence with the contrastive variation of intonation?

Seventy-four native speakers of Japanese and thirty-one native speakers of English (control group) listened to twenty pairs of sentences presented with contrastive intonation. For each sentence they were asked to choose one of three different interpretations. Their responses were evaluated, at a 0.05 level of significance, using statistical tests of hypothesis (t and chi-square), and measures of correlation (r, phi and Cramers's V).

Major findings of this study are (1) the Japanese students had more difficulty with comprehending English intonation than the American students; (2) the Japanese students seemed to lack know ledge of grammar-intonation relationships; (3) they were able to understand attitudinal judgment intonation as well as native speakers.


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