Studies in Second Language Acquisition



ACCENT, INTELLIGIBILITY, AND COMPREHENSIBILITY

(Evidence from Four L1s)


Tracey M. Derwing a1c1 and Murray J. Munro a2
a1 University of Alberta
a2 Simon Fraser University

Abstract

This study was designed to extend previous research on the relationships among intelligibility, perceived comprehensibility, and accentedness. Accent and comprehensibility ratings and transcriptions of accented speech from Cantonese, Japanese, Polish, and Spanish intermediate ESL students were obtained from 26 native English listeners. The listeners were also asked to identify the first language backgrounds of the same talkers and to provide information on their familiarity with the four accents used in this study. When the results of this study were compared with the Munro and Derwing (1995, Language Learning, 45, 73–97) study of learners of high proficiency, speaker proficiency level did not appear to affect the quasi-independent relationships among intelligibility, perceived comprehensibility, and accentedness; however, the relative contributions of grammatical and phonemic errors and goodness of prosody differed somewhat. Ability to identify the speakers' first languages was influenced by familiarity.

(Received August 17 1996)


Correspondence:
c1 Address correspondence to Tracey M. Derwing, Department of Educational Psychology, 6th Floor, Education North, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2G5, Canada; e-mail: tracey.derwing@ualberta.ca.


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