Skip to main content
×
×
Home

THE MUTUAL INTELLIGIBILITY OF L2 SPEECH

  • Murray J. Munro (a1), Tracey M. Derwing (a2) and Susan L. Morton (a1)
Abstract

When understanding or evaluating foreign-accented speech, listeners are affected not only by properties of the speech itself but by their own linguistic backgrounds and their experience with different speech varieties. Given the latter influence, it is not known to what degree a diverse group of listeners might share a response to second language (L2) speech. In this study, listeners from native Cantonese, Japanese, Mandarin, and English backgrounds evaluated the same set of foreign-accented English utterances from native speakers of Cantonese, Japanese, Polish, and Spanish. Regardless of native language background, the listener groups showed moderate to high correlations on intelligibility scores and comprehensibility and accentedness ratings. Although some between-group differences emerged, the groups tended to agree on which of the 48 speakers were the easiest and most difficult to understand; between-group effect sizes were generally small. As in previous studies, the listeners did not consistently exhibit an intelligibility benefit for speech produced in their own accent. These findings support the view that properties of the speech itself are a potent factor in determining how L2 speech is perceived, even when the listeners are from diverse language backgrounds.This work was supported by two grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to the first two authors. The authors thank J. E. Flege and three anonymous SSLA reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier version of the paper as well as the listeners and speakers for their willingness to participate in the study. The listening stimuli used here were also used in a paper published in SSLA in 1997.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Murray J. Munro, Department of Linguistics, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC, V5A 1S6, Canada; e-mail: mjmunro@sfu.ca
References
Hide All

REFERENCES

Anderson-Hsieh, J., Johnson, R., & Koehler, K. (1992). The relationship between native speaker judgments of nonnative pronunciation and deviance in segmentals, prosody, and syllable structure. Language Learning, 42, 529555.
Anderson-Hsieh, J. & Koehler, K. (1988). The effect of foreign accent and speaking rate on native speaker comprehension. Language Learning, 38, 561613.
Asher, J. & Garcia, R. (1969). The optimal age to learn a foreign language. Modern Language Journal, 53, 334341.
Bent, T. & Bradlow, A.R. (2003). The interlanguage speech intelligibility benefit. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 114, 16001610.
Breitkreutz, J.A., Derwing, T.M., & Rossiter, M.J. (2001). Pronunciation teaching practices in Canada. TESL Canada Journal, 19, 5161.
Brennan, E. & Brennan, J. (1981). Measurements of accent and attitude toward Mexican-American speech. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 10, 487501.
Brodkey, D. (1972). Dictation as a measure of mutual intelligibility: A pilot study. Language Learning, 22, 203220.
Burda, A., Scherz, J., Hageman, C., & Edwards, H. (2003). Age and understanding of speakers with Spanish or Taiwanese accents. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 97, 1120.
Dávila, A., Bohara, A., & Saenz, R. (1993). Accent penalties and the earnings of Mexican Americans. Social Science Quarterly, 74, 902915.
Derwing, T.M. & Munro, M.J. (1997). Accent, intelligibility, and comprehensibility: Evidence from four L1s. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 19, 116.
Derwing, T.M. & Munro, M.J. (2005). Second language accent and pronunciation teaching: A research-based approach. TESOL Quarterly, 39, 379397.
Derwing, T.M., Munro, M.J., & Carbonaro, M. (2000). Does popular speech recognition software work with ESL speech? TESOL Quarterly, 34, 592603.
Derwing, T.M., Rossiter, M.J., & Munro, M.J. (2002). Teaching native speakers to listen to foreign-accented speech. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 23, 245259.
Flege, J.E. (1988a). Factors affecting degree of perceived foreign accent in English sentences. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 84, 7079.
Flege, J.E. (1988b). The production and perception of foreign language speech sounds. In H. Winitz (Ed.), Human communication and its disorders: A review—1988 (pp. 224401). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
Flege, J.E. & Fletcher, K.L. (1992). Talker and listener effects on degree of perceived foreign accent. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 91, 370389.
Flege, J.E., Munro, M.J., & Mackay, I.R.A. (1995). Factors affecting strength of perceived foreign accent in a second language. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 97, 31253134.
Gass, S. & Varonis, E. (1984). The effect of familiarity on the comprehensibility of nonnative speech. Language Learning, 34, 6589.
Hazan, V. & Markham, D. (2004). Acoustic-phonetic correlates of talker intelligibility for adults and children. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 116, 31083118.
Howell, D.C. (1992). Statistical methods for psychology (3rd ed.). Boston: PWS-Kent Publishing Co.
Kalin, R. & Rayko, D. (1978). Discrimination in evaluative judgments against foreign-accented job candidates. Psychological Reports, 43, 12031209.
Kent, R., Miolo, G., & Bloedel, S. (1994). The intelligibility of children's speech: A review of evaluation procedures. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 3, 8195.
Lippi-Green, R. (1997). English with an accent: Language, ideology, and discrimination in the United States. London: Routledge.
Mackay, I.R.A., Flege, J.E., & Imai, S., (in press). Evaluating the effects of chronological age and sentence duration on degree of perceived foreign accent. Applied Psycholinguistics.
Magen, H. (1998). The perception of foreign-accented speech. Journal of Phonetics, 26, 381400.
Major, R. (2001). Foreign accent: The ontogeny and phylogeny of second language phonology. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Major, R., Fitzmaurice, S., Bunta, F., & Balasubramanian, C. (2002). The effects of nonnative accents on listening comprehension: Implications for ESL assessment. TESOL Quarterly, 36, 173190.
Munro, M.J. (2003). A primer on accent discrimination in the Canadian context. TESL Canada Journal, 20, 3851.
Munro, M.J. (2005). Foreign accent and speech intelligibility. Manuscript in preparation.
Munro, M.J. & Derwing, T.M. (1994). Evaluations of foreign accent in extemporaneous and read material. Language Testing, 3, 253266.
Munro, M.J. & Derwing, T.M. (1995). Processing time, accent, and comprehensibility in the perception of native and foreign-accented speech. Language and Speech, 38, 289306.
Munro, M.J. & Derwing, T.M. (1999). Foreign accent, comprehensibility, and intelligibility in the speech of second language learners. Language Learning, 49, 285310.
Munro, M.J. & Derwing, T.M. (2001). Modeling perceptions of the accentedness and comprehensibility of L2 speech: The role of speaking rate. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 23, 451468.
Perlmutter, M. (1989). Intelligibility rating of L2 speech pre- and postintervention. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 68, 515521.
Raisler, I. (1976). Differential response to the same message delivered by native and foreign speakers. Foreign Language Annals, 9, 256259.
Rubin, D. (1992). Nonlanguage factors affecting undergraduates' judgments of nonnative English-speaking teaching assistants. Research in Higher Education, 33, 511531.
Scovel, T. (1988). A time to speak: A psycholinguistic investigation into the critical period for human speech. New York: Harper and Row.
Shrout, P.E. & Fleiss, J.L. (1979). Intraclass correlations: Uses in assessing rater reliability. Psychological Bulletin, 2, 420428.
Smith, L. & Bisazza, J. (1982). The comprehensibility of three varieties of English for college students in seven countries. Language Learning, 32, 259269.
Smith, L. & Rafiqzad, K. (1979). English for cross-cultural communication: The question of intelligibility. TESOL Quarterly, 13, 371380.
Southwood, M. & Flege, J.E. (1999). Scaling foreign accent: Direct magnitude estimation versus interval scaling. Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics, 13, 335349.
Thompson, I. (1991). Foreign accents revisited: The English pronunciation of Russian immigrants. Language Learning, 41, 177204.
Zielinski, B. (2004, May). Measurement of speech intelligibility: What are we actually measuring? Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Applied Linguistics, Portland, OR.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Studies in Second Language Acquisition
  • ISSN: 0272-2631
  • EISSN: 1470-1545
  • URL: /core/journals/studies-in-second-language-acquisition
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed