Vigo International Journal of Applied Linguistics VIAL

Z.S. Bond, Verna Stockmal and Danny R. Moates (1): Searching for Foreign accent. VIAL. Number 0/2003: 13-24.


Native speakers of English can identify non-native English speakers with relatively little difficulty. Further, they are able to identify the native language of non-native speakers, as suggested by such terms as French or Arabic accent, implying that non-native English carries properties which are characteristic of native languages. In four experiments we investigated whether English listeners can match an unknown foreign language with a foreign accent. In the first two experiments, listeners heard a sample of accented English and were asked to select the native language of the speakers from a series of competitors. Listener performance did not exceed chance. In the third experiment, listeners made 'yes-no' responses to accented English matched with foreign languages,including the native language of the speaker. Although listeners thought some languages were more likely to be the source of the foreign accent than others, they did not identify the target language correctly. In the fourth experiment, listeners supplied ratings about the similarity of accented English and various foreign languages, with results very similar to those of Experiment 3.

(1) Ohio University, Athens, OH, U.S.A.

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