Evaluation of Native-speaker Judgements

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Sun Oct 29 16:39:48 UTC 2006

Forwarded From Linguist-List

How Friendly are the Natives?  An Evaluation of Native-speaker Judgements
of Foreign-accented British and American English

This study is the first ever to employ a large-scale Internet survey to
investigate priorities in English pronunciation training. Well over 500
native speakers from throughout the English-speaking world, including
North America, the British Isles, Australia and New Zealand, were asked to
detect and evaluate Dutch pronunciation errors in sentences read by
bilingual actors. Through the application of up-to-date statistical
procedures, these assessments were analysed and then used to construct
hierarchies of error for pronunciation training in the most commonly
taught varieties of British and American English.

The attitudes of the various groups of native speakers towards error
detection and evaluation were found to be strikingly different.
Nevertheless, the findings indicate that almost all natives attach
considerable significance to pronunciation errors that impede
intelligibility. In those cases where there is no loss of intelligibility,
they often respond negatively to features that are socially marked in
native varieties of English. This effect of stigmatisation was found to
differ considerably, for example, between countries such as the United
States and Britain. Even non-native pronunciation errors that are very
similar to features actually attested in respondents' own accents are not
necessarily judged more leniently.

In addition to discussing the effects of linguistic background on the
judgements of native speakers, this study also considers the error
assessments of Dutch teachers and students of English, and provides a
brief overview of pronunciation training in the Netherlands.

This research will be of interest not only to phoneticians and
sociolinguists with an interest in second language acquisition, but also
to teachers and students of English pronunciation and accent varieties.

How Friendly are the Natives?
Subtitle: An Evaluation of Native-speaker Judgements of Foreign-accented
British and American English
Series Title: LOT Dissertation Series
Published: 2006
Publisher: Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics / Landelijke

Book URL: http://www.lotpublications.nl

Author: Rias van den Doel


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