Help Privacy Policy Disclaimer
  Advanced SearchBrowse




Journal Article

Variability in the pronunciation of non-native English the: Effects of frequency and disfluencies

There are no MPG-Authors in the publication available
External Resource
No external resources are shared
Fulltext (restricted access)
There are currently no full texts shared for your IP range.
Fulltext (public)
Supplementary Material (public)
There is no public supplementary material available

Schertz, J., & Ernestus, M. (2014). Variability in the pronunciation of non-native English the: Effects of frequency and disfluencies. Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory, 10, 329-345. doi:10.1515/cllt-2014-0024.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0024-25DF-9
This study examines how lexical frequency and planning problems can predict phonetic variability in the function word ‘the’ in conversational speech produced by non-native speakers of English. We examined 3180 tokens of ‘the’ drawn from English conversations between native speakers of Czech or Norwegian. Using regression models, we investigated the effect of following word frequency and disfluencies on three phonetic parameters: vowel duration, vowel quality, and consonant quality. Overall, the non-native speakers showed variation that is very similar to the variation displayed by native speakers of English. Like native speakers, Czech speakers showed an effect of frequency on vowel durations, which were shorter in more frequent word sequences. Both groups of speakers showed an effect of frequency on consonant quality: the substitution of another consonant for /ð/ occurred more often in the context of more frequent words. The speakers in this study also showed a native-like allophonic distinction in vowel quality, in which /ði/ occurs more often before vowels and /ðə/ before consonants. Vowel durations were longer in the presence of following disfluencies, again mirroring patterns in native speakers, and the consonant quality was more likely to be the target /ð/ before disfluencies, as opposed to a different consonant. The fact that non-native speakers show native-like sensitivity to lexical frequency and disfluencies suggests that these effects are consequences of a general, non-language-specific production mechanism governing language planning. On the other hand, the non-native speakers in this study did not show native-like patterns of vowel quality in the presence of disfluencies, suggesting that the pattern attested in native speakers of English may result from language-specific processes separate from the general production mechanisms