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Can Anglophone learners aurally distinguish between the passé composé and imparfait in French?


Can Anglophone learners aurally distinguish between the passé composé and imparfait in French?

Chung, Rhonda (2016) Can Anglophone learners aurally distinguish between the passé composé and imparfait in French? Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Anglophone French learners’ problems acquiring the passé composé (PC; il a parl/e/) and imparfait (IMP; il parl/E/) are well-documented in SLA literature. Explanations range from inadequate pedagogical material to incongruencies in the tense/aspect/modality of both languages. However, can learners actually perceive the acoustic differences inherent in these two constructions? The largest verb group in French (-ER verbs) was targeted as it produces regular morphophonemic inflections (/e/ and /E/) when conjugated in the PC and IMP, respectively. However, this /e-E/ distinction has undergone phonological neutralization in certain French variants, resulting in greater production of /e/ over /E/, which may lead to inaccurate L2 perception and production.
A one-shot experiment comprised of four tasks tested whether Anglophone L2 French learners could distinguish between the /e-E/ contrast in: a transcription task of high frequency verbs, two phoneme discrimination tasks of minimal pairs in nonwords and in sentential contexts, and a grammaticality task evaluating lexical bias. All speech samples were judged by speakers of Quebecois French, where the /e-E/ distinction remains contrastive. Results revealed that participants: overwhelmingly transcribed /e/ with greater accuracy than /E/; perceived /e/ better than /E/ in the discrimination tasks for non-words; perceived the IMP where the PC was used (despite the auxiliary in the latter); and demonstrated an aspectual lexical bias in differentiating between the PC and IMP in the grammaticality task. These results suggest that French learners’ inability to aurally perceive the /e-E/ distinction inherent in the PC and IMP may further complicate past tense acquisition.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Education
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Chung, Rhonda
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Applied Linguistics
Date:April 2016
Thesis Supervisor(s):Cardoso, Walcir
Keywords:L2 perception, passé composé, imparfait, past tense acquisition, Anglophone FSL, Quebecois French, phonological neutralization, epsilon, /e-E/, French mid-vowels, loi de position, Aspect Hypothesis, tense and aspect.
ID Code:981066
Deposited By: RHONDA CHUNG
Deposited On:31 May 2016 19:33
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:52


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