Volume 4, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1387-6759
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9897
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The current surge of interest in studies on intonation, in areas ranging from L2 teaching to child language acquisition, finally mirrors the crucial role played by intonation in the whole of human communication through language. In studies on non-native linguistic proficiency, a ‘foreign intonation’ appears as the last stronghold of a non-native accent, consisting in the use, in a second language, of intonation patterns belonging to the first language of the learner. The use of a foreign intonation does not, however, only characterise an accent. Intonation patterns convey specific meanings in each language, and the correspondence between these meanings and specific pitch patterns is often as arbitrary as the correspondence between words and their meanings. The purpose of this paper is twofold: first, to provide a basis for the comparison of the intonation patterns of (European) Portuguese and (British) English, highlighting potential areas of difficulty for speakers of each of these languages in learning the other, and the reasons for these difficulties. Second, to give support to the view, current in L2 studies, that the learning of L2 intonation cannot be taken for granted, if breakdown in native to non-native spoken communication is to be avoided.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): English/Portuguese; foreign accent; intonation mismatch
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