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Speech Rate Is No Simple matter: Rate Adjustment and NS–NNS Communicative Success

  • Tracey M. Derwing (a1)

Speech rate (articulation rate and pauses) was examined for its relation to communicative success. Native English speakers (NSs) were paired with other NSs and with non-native speakers (NNSs). The subjects viewed a short film, the content of which they were to relay to their two partners independently. Communicative success was measured through comprehension questions addressed to the listeners at the completion of the task. Analyses indicated that although a slight majority of NSs slowed their speech rate for NNSs, they did not adjust articulation rate, but did significantly increase pause time. Neither speech rate nor articulation rate varied over the course of the narrations. Contrary to intuition, the subjects who successfully communicated the story to NNSs did not adjust their speech rate, while those who had difficulty communicating with NNSs increased pause time significantly. The implications of the findings are discussed, and suggestions for further research are made.

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Studies in Second Language Acquisition
  • ISSN: 0272-2631
  • EISSN: 1470-1545
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