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The durational modulation of repeated words in second language discourse by language experience

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Abstract

Previous research suggests that repeated words in discourse are durationally shortened in comparison to the first mention, particularly when the words describe the same scene in a story. However, previous methods often relied on reading passages, which may be challenging to second language (L2) speakers or films, which require significant cultural comprehension. These methods may provide different findings from the accessibility of discourse referents in spontaneous speech using a picture narrative. This pilot study used a multi-scene picture narrative to elicit word reduction in spontaneous discourse. L2 English speakers with Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, or Spanish as a first language narrated a story using a sequence of eight pictures/scenes about two strangers who collide and accidentally pick up each other's suitcase. Productions, when compared to native speakers of English, showed similar patterns of repeated word reduction. The results suggest that durations typically reset to full duration when words are repeated in different scenes, but they reduce within scenes. Results also suggest that the degree of second mention reductions vary modestly by first language. The results also show that a picture narrative was a promising method to elicit 2nd mention reductions in spontaneous speech and demonstrated durational sensitivity to scene changes.
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