On-line interpretation of intonational meaning in L2

Braun, B., & Tagliapietra, L. (2011). On-line interpretation of intonational meaning in L2. Language and Cognitive Processes, 26(2), 224 -235. doi:10.1080/01690965.2010.486209.
Despite their relatedness, Dutch and German differ in the interpretation of a particular intonation contour, the hat pattern. In the literature, this contour has been described as neutral for Dutch, and as contrastive for German. A recent study supports the idea that Dutch listeners interpret this contour neutrally, compared to the contrastive interpretation of a lexically identical utterance realised with a double peak pattern. In particular, this study showed shorter lexical decision latencies to visual targets (e.g., PELIKAAN, “pelican”) following a contrastively related prime (e.g., flamingo, “flamingo”) only when the primes were embedded in sentences with a contrastive double peak contour, not in sentences with a neutral hat pattern. The present study replicates Experiment 1a of Braun and Tagliapietra (2009) with German learners of Dutch. Highly proficient learners of Dutch differed from Dutch natives in that they showed reliable priming effects for both intonation contours. Thus, the interpretation of intonational meaning in L2 appears to be fast, automatic, and driven by the associations learned in the native language.
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