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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Adjective order, rhythmic stress and recall Hether, Christine Anne

Abstract

Previous investigations of the phenomenon of preferred adjective order in English have overlooked or ignored the influence of rhythmic stress in language recall. The importance of researching this dimension becomes evident when one attempts to understand preferred adjective order cross-culturally, particularly in languages such as Spanish and French where adjective order is flexible, but rhythmic stress is not. The hypothesis of the present experiment, that the nonstressed word of a phrase would be a better cue than the stressed word for the rest of the phrase was not substantiated. However, the finding that first word stress during input was the most relevant variable with respect to recalling phrases has important implications for speech perception and first language learning. In effect, the data suggest that the acoustical marker of first word stress constitute a perceptual strategy which is primary in learning English. The data are not comprehensive enough to generalize this principle to other languages, but certainly suggest the value of investigating such a possibility.

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