Advertisement

Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 44, Issue 6, pp 749–773 | Cite as

Acoustic Analyses and Intelligibility Assessments of Timing Patterns Among Chinese English Learners with Different Dialect Backgrounds

  • Hsueh Chu ChenEmail author
Article

Abstract

This paper includes two interrelated studies. The first production study investigates the timing patterns of English as spoken by Chinese learners with different dialect backgrounds. The second comprehension study explores native and non-native speakers’ assessments of the intelligibility of Chinese-accented English, and examines the effects of the listeners’ language backgrounds on their perceptions of Chinese-accented English. The results showed that the Hong Kong (HK) group performed better in unstressed syllable duration compared with the Taiwan (TW) and Beijing (BJ) groups. The results also revealed that all six listener groups achieved at least 78 % intelligibility, with the native speaker accent achieving the highest rating, followed by the HK, TW, and BJ accents. A shared first language (L1) background may have little or no impact on intelligibility. The speech properties might prevail over the shared L1 effect. All listeners perceived inappropriate word-stress shift and consonant cluster simplifications to be the most unintelligible features.

Keywords

Intelligibility Foreign accent Production Perception Inter-language phonology 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the Internal Research Grant of the Hong Kong Institute of Education.

References

  1. Abercrombie, D. (1967). Elements of general phonetics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Anderson-Hsieh, J., Johnson, R., & Koehler, K. (1992). The relationship between native speaker judgements of nonnative pronunciation and deviance in segmentals, prosody, and syllable structure. Language Learning, 42, 529–555.Google Scholar
  3. Aoyama, K., & Guion, S. G. (2007). Prosody in second language acquisition: Acoustic analyses of duration and F0 range. In O. S. Bohn & M. J. Munro (Eds.), Language experience in second language speech learning: In honor of James Emil Flege (pp. 282–297). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  4. Bent, T., & Bradlow, A. R. (2003). The interlanguage speech intelligibility benefit. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 114(3), 1600–1610.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Buck, G. (2001). Assessing listening. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Carlisle, R. S. (1994). Markedness and environment as internal constraints on the variability of interlanguage phonology. In M. Yavas (Ed.), First and second language phonology (pp. 223–249). San Diego: Singular.Google Scholar
  7. Celce-Murcia, M., Brinton, D. M., & Goodwin, J. M. (2001). Teaching pronunciation: A reference for teachers of English to speakers of other languages. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Chan, A. Y. W. (2006). Strategies used by Cantonese speakers in pronouncing English initial consonant clusters: Insights into the interlanguage phonology of Cantonese ESL learners in Hong Kong. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 44(4), 331–355. doi: 10.1515/IRAL.2006.015.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chang, J. (1987). Chinese speakers. In M. Swan & B. Smith (Eds.), Learner English: A teachers’ guide to interference and other problems (pp. 224–237). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Chao, Y. R. (1968). A grammar of spoken Chinese. Berkeley: University of California.Google Scholar
  11. Chen, H. C., & Chung, R. F. (2008). Interlanguage analysis of phonetic timing patterns by Taiwanese learners. Concentric: Studies in Linguistics, 34(1), 79–108.Google Scholar
  12. Chen, H. C., & Chung, R. F. (2004). Effects of task formality on consonant cluster simplification for Taiwanese learners with limited English proficiency. English Teaching and Learning, 28, 67–93.Google Scholar
  13. Chen, H. C., & Wang, Q. (2013). English timing patterns of Chinese learners: Evidence from acoustic measures and perceptual judgements. In Paper presented at the American association for applied linguistics 2013 annual conference, Dallas, TX, USA.Google Scholar
  14. Chen, H. C. (2005). The acquisition of American English rhythm by Taiwanese EFL learners. English Teaching and Learning, 29(3), 1–23.Google Scholar
  15. Chen, H. C. (2010). Second language timing patterns and their effects on native listeners’ perceptions. Concentric: Studies in Linguistics, 36(2), 183–212.Google Scholar
  16. Chen, H. C. (2011). Judgments of intelligibility and foreign accent by listeners of different language backgrounds. The Journal of Asia TEFL, 8(4), 61–83.Google Scholar
  17. Chomsky, N., & Halle, M. (1968). The sound pattern of English. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  18. Cruttenden, A. (2001). Gimson’s pronunciation of English (6th ed.). London: Edward Arnold.Google Scholar
  19. de Pijper, J. R., & Sanderman, A. A. (1994). On the perceptual strength of prosodic boundaries and its relation to suprasegmental cues. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 96(4), 2037–2047.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Derwing, T. M., & Munro, M. J. (1997). Accent, intelligibility and comprehensibility: Evidence from four L1s. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 19, 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Derwing, T. M., & Munro, M. J. (2005). Second language accent and pronunciation teaching: A research-based approach. TESOL Quarterly, 39, 379–397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Derwing, T. M., Rossiter, M. J., Munro, M. J., & Thomson, R. I. (2004). Second language fluency: Judgments on different tasks. Language Learning, 54, 655–679.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Deterding, D. (2006). The pronunciation of English by speakers from China. English World-Wide, 27(2), 175–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Duanmu, S. (2007). The phonology of standard Chinese. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Duez, D. (1982). Silent and non-silent pauses in three speech styles. Language and Speech, 25, 11–28.Google Scholar
  26. EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI). (2013). Retrieved from http://www.ef.com.hk/epi/.
  27. Field, J. (2005). Intelligibility and the listener: The role of lexical stress. TESOL Quarterly, 39(3), 399–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Flege, J. E. (1995). Second language speech learning: Theory, finding, and problems. In W. Strange (Ed.), Speech Perception and linguistic experience: Issues in cross-language research (pp. 233–277). Timonium, MD: York Press.Google Scholar
  29. Flowerdew, J. (1994). Research of relevance to second language lecture comprehension—an overview. In J. Flowerdew (Ed.), Academic listening (pp. 7–29). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Graddol, D. (1998). The future of English. London: The British Council.Google Scholar
  31. Griffths, R. (1991). Pausological research in an L-2 context: A rationale and review of selected studies. Applied Linguistics, 12, 345–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Heyer, S. C. (1986). English final consonants and the Chinese learner. Unpublished master’s thesis of Southern Illinois University, Illinois.Google Scholar
  33. Hieke, A. (1987). Absorption and fluency in native and non-native casual speech in English. In A. James & J. Leather (Eds.), Sound patterns in second language acquisition (pp. 41–58). Dordrecht: Foris.Google Scholar
  34. Hooper, J. (1976). An introduction to natural generative phonology. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  35. Jenkins, J. (2000). The phonology of English as an international language: New models, new norms, new goals. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Jenkins, J. (2002). A sociolinguistically based, empirically researched pronunciationsyllabus for English as an international language. Applied Linguistics, 23, 83–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Jun, S. A. (2005). Prosodic typology: An approach through intonational phonology and transcription. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kachru, B. B. (2008). The first step: The Smith paradigm for intelligibility in world Englishes. World Englishes, 27, 293–296. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-971X.2008.00567.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kirkpatrick, A., Deterding, D., & Wong, J. (2008). The international intelligibility of Hong Kong English. World Englishes, 27(3/4), 359–377. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-971X.2008.00573.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kubler, C. (1985). The influence of Southern Min on the Mandarin of Taiwan. Anthropological Linguistics, 27, 156–176.Google Scholar
  41. Ladefoged, P. (2006). A course in phonetics (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Thomson Wadsworth.Google Scholar
  42. Lee, S., & Oh, Y. H. (1999). Tree-based modeling of prosodic phrasing and segmental duration for Korean TTS systems. Speech Communication, 28, 283–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lin, Y.-H. (2001). Syllable simplification strategies: A stylistic perspective. Language Learning, 51, 681–718.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Low, E. L. (2010). The acoustic reality of the Kachruvian circles: A rhythmic perspective. World Englishes, 29(3), 394–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Low, E. L., & Brown, A. (2005). English in Singapore: An introduction. Singapore: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  46. Low, E. L., Grabe, E., & Nolan, F. (2000). Quantitative characterisations of speech rhythm: Syllable-timing in Singapore English. Language and Speech, 43, 377–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Major, R. C., Fitzmaurice, S. F., Bunta, F., & Balasubramanium, C. (2002). The effects of nonnative accents on listening comprehension: Implications for assessment. TESOL Quarterly, 36(2), 173–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Major, R. (1994). Chronological and stylistic aspects of second language acquisition of consonant clusters. Language Learning, 44, 655–680.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Matsuura, H., Chiba, R., & Fujieda, M. (1999). Intelligibility and comprehensibility of American and Irish Englishes in Japan. World Englishes, 18(1), 49. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database.Google Scholar
  50. Munro, M. J., & Derwing, T. (1995a). Processing time, accent, and comprehensibility in the perception of native and foreign-accented speech. Language & Speech, 38, 289–306.Google Scholar
  51. Munro, M. J., & Derwing, T. M. (1995b). Foreign accent, comprehensibility, and intelligibility in the speech of second language learners. Language Learning, 45, 73–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Munro, M. J., & Derwing, T. M. (1998). The effects of speaking rate on listener evaluations of native and foreign-accented speech. Language Learning, 48, 159–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Munro, M. J., & Derwing, T. M. (2001). Modeling perceptions of accentedness and comprehensibility of L2 speech. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 23, 451–468.Google Scholar
  54. Munro, M. J., Derwing, T. M., & Morton, S. L. (2006). The mutual intelligibility of L2 speech. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 28(1), 111–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. O’Connell, D. C., & Kowal, S. (1983). Pausology. In S. Y. Sedelow & W. A. Sedelow (Eds.), Computers in language research (Vol. 2). Berlin: De Gruyter.Google Scholar
  56. Ong, P. K. F., Deterding, D., & Low, E. L. (2005). Rhythm in Singapore and British English: A comparative study of indexes. In D. Deterding, A. Brown, & E. L. Low (Eds.), English in Singapore: Phonetic research on a corpus (pp. 73–79). Singapore: McGraw-Hill Education (Asia).Google Scholar
  57. Pickering, L. (2006). Current research on intelligibility in English as a Lingua Franca. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 26, 219–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Pike, K. (1945). The intonation of American English. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  59. Riney, T., Takagi, N., & Inutsuka, K. (2005). Phonetic parameters and perceptual judgements of accents in English by American and Japanese listeners. TESOL Quarterly, 39, 441–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Roach, P. (2009). English phonetics and phonology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  61. Rogers, C. L. (1997). Intelligibility of Chinese-accented English. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN.Google Scholar
  62. Rogers, C. L., Dalby, J., & Nishi, K. (2004). Effects of noise and proficiency on intelligibility of Chinese-accented English. Language and speech, 47(2), 139–154.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. Schiavetti, N. (1992). Scaling procedures for the measurement of speech intelligibility. In R. D. Kent (Ed.), Intelligibility in speech disorders (pp. 11–34). Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Smith, L., & Nelson, C. (1985). International intelligibility of English: Directions and resources. World Englishes, 4, 333–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Smith, L. E., & Bisazza, J. A. (1982). The comprehensibility of three varieties of English for college students in seven countries. Language Learning, 32(2), 259–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Smith, L. E., & Rafiqzad, K. (1979). English for cross-cultural communication: The question of intelligibility. TESOL Quarterly, 13(3), 371–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Tajima, K., Port, R., & Dalby, J. (1997). Effects of temporal correction on intelligibility of foreign accented English. Journal of Phonetics, 25, 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Tsao, Y.-C., & Weismer, G. (1997). Interspeaker variation in habitual speaking rate: Evidence for a neuromuscular component. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 40, 858–866.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  69. van Wijngaarden, S., Steeneken, H., & Houtgast, T. (2002). Quantifying the intelligibility of speech in noise for nonnative listeners. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 111, 1906–16.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  70. Weinberger, S. (1994). Functional and phonetic constraints on second language phonology. In M. Yavas (Ed.), First and second language phonology (pp. 283–302). San Diego, CA: Singular Publishing Group.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Linguistics and Modern Language StudiesThe Hong Kong Institute of EducationTaipoHong Kong

Personalised recommendations