Studies in second language acquisition have increased in the last decades. However, quite often the research in this field has been limited to the analysis of errors made by learners. Moreover, within the phonological domain, only the segmental aspects have been considered for a long time. Two basic constraints emerge from the picture we can draw of this area of research: - perception has been generally ignored; - the role of prosody in L2 learning, as well as in perceiving a foreign accent, has not been taken into account. Instead, we believe that prosody plays an important role in the process of L2 acquisition. In parallel, we think it possible to disentangle the influence of segmental vs. suprasegmental features (i.e. the phoneme string vs. prosody) in what is perceived as a foreign accent. We wonder whether there exists a hierarchy between segments and suprasegmentals in the process of perception. This research, crucially based on perceptual tests, tries to answer this question, with the explicit acknowledgement that prosody is a non-subsidiary factor in the perception of “foreign accent”.
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