[′beɾɚ] or [′betə]? Do Polish Learners of English Accommodate their Pronunciation? A Pilot Study

  • Magdalena Zając
Part of the Second Language Learning and Teaching book series (SLLT)


One does not have to be a linguist to notice that a person’s speech varies with relation to who one is talking to. In the same manner that people often find themselves speaking more slowly and clearly while addressing a foreigner or an elderly person, one will use different language when engaging in casual conversation with friends and when discussing account details with a bank official. To interpret and justify these shifts in communicative behaviour, Communication Accommodation Theory (CAT) may be applied. Although CAT focuses primarily on interactions between native speakers of a given language, there have been several studies which suggest that the theory may also be applied to variation in non-native communicative behaviour (Zuengler 1991). The aim of this pilot study was to investigate whether Polish learners of English accommodate to different English accents. To examine the applicability of CAT in such interactions, a pilot study on 4 first year English philology students was conducted, each of which was interviewed first by an RP and later a Canadian English speaker. The two dependent variables under investigation were tapping and rhoticity. Although the factors which affect the presence or absence of accommodation remain uncertain, the results of this pilot study indicate that some Polish English speakers may accommodate to different accents. It was also observed that tapping appears quite frequently in the speech of the informants selected, which seems to be a result of extensive exposure to American English (tv, cinema, music) rather than an indication of convergence towards any of the interlocutors. The pilot study has also provided some valuable insight into ways of improving the methodology of examining accommodation in native/non-native interactions.


Native Speaker Lexical Item Communicative Behaviour Function Word British National Corpus 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ŁódźŁódźPoland

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