Interference of Accent System Variation with the Acquisition of Compound Accent Rule: A Cross-dialectal Study

Volume 2
Issue 1
Ayako Shirose, Kazuhiko Kakehi, & Shigeru Kiritani
This study aims at investigating how Japanese compound accent rules (CAR) are acquired by native Japanese children. To better understand CAR acquisition, this study contrasts CAR acquisition in three dialects which vary in accent systems: Tokyo Japanese, Kyoto Japanese and Kagoshima Japanese. Our results reveal the following points: 1) Both Tokyo and Kyoto children tended to produce the pattern in which the nonfinal foot of the compound is accented more frequently than any of the other CA patterns. This finding agrees with the universal constraint-hierarchy of Optimality Theory. 2) Kyoto children showed the tendency to use the nonfinal-footed accent at a later developmental stage than the Tokyo children. The complex accent system of Kyoto Japanese may prevent the emergence of the unmarked characteristic at an early stage of acquisition. 3) With the Kagoshima Japanese experiment, most of the children’s answers followed the adult’s answers. This result suggests the simple accent system of Kagoshima Japanese may contribute to tuning children to the adults’ accent system at an early stage of acquisition. These results raise the possibility that the accent system variation interferes with the acquisition of compound accent rule: the complex accent system suppresses CAR acquisition while the simple accent system promotes it.