Which features of accent affect understanding? Exploring the intelligibility threshold of diverse accent varieties

Okim Kang, Ron I. Thomson, Meghan Moran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

With the ascendency of English as a global lingua franca, a clearer understanding of what constitutes intelligible speech is needed. However, research systematically investigating the threshold of intelligibility has been very limited. In this article, we provide a brief summary of the literature as it pertains to intelligible and comprehensible speech, and then report on an exploratory study seeking to determine what specific features of accented speech make it difficult for global listeners to process. Eighteen speakers representing six English varieties were recruited to provide speech stimuli for two English listening tests. Sixty listeners from the same six English varieties took part in the listening tests, and their scores were then assessed against measurable segmental, prosodic, and fluency features found in the speech samples. Results indicate that it is possible to identify particular features of English speech varieties that are most likely to lead to a breakdown in communication, and that the number of such features present in a particular speakers' speech can predict intelligibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)453-480
Number of pages28
JournalApplied Linguistics
Volume41
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Which features of accent affect understanding? Exploring the intelligibility threshold of diverse accent varieties'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this