Production of English lexical stress by Mandarin speakers: Acoustics and kinematics

Joanne Jingwen Li, Maria I. Grigos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study aims to understand if Mandarin late learners of English can successfully manipulate acoustic and kinematic cues to deliver English stress contrast in production. Mandarin (N = 8) and English (N = 8) speakers were recorded producing English trochaic (initial stress) and iambic (final stress) items during a nonword repetition task. Speakers’ jaw movement for the utterances was tracked and analysed. Acoustic and kinematic cues were measured for each syllable, including acoustic duration, fundamental frequency (F0), and intensity, as well as jaw movement duration, displacement, peak velocity, and stiffness. Stress ratios (syllable 1 / syllable 2) were calculated for each cue and compared between groups. Results showed that English and Mandarin speakers had generally comparable performance in differentiating trochaic from iambic patterns, as well as in the degree of between-syllable contrast within each pattern. Between-group differences were only observed in acoustic duration and jaw movement velocity/stiffness. These results suggest that the experience with Mandarin stress contributes to Mandarin speakers’ overall successful production of English stress but also results in nonnative use of some acoustic/kinematic cues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)667-695
Number of pages29
JournalSecond Language Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • L2 production
  • acoustics
  • kinematics
  • lexical stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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