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Volume 8 Number 1, Spring 2011, Pages 1-162   

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Differential Effects of Phonological and Lexicogrammatical Errors on NS and NNS Listeners' Perceptions of Comprehensibility: An Exploratory Study

    Kazuya Saito

This paper investigates how different linguistic features (i.e., phonological vs. lexicogrammatical aspects of language) affect both native speaking (NS) and non-native speaking (NNS) listeners' perceptions of comprehensibility. In the experiment, seven NS and near-native NNS listeners rated the comprehensibility of two types of NNS extemporaneous speech samples: one was carefully transcribed by the researcher and read by NSs, while the other was an unaltered collection of speech tokens recorded by NNSs. The results demonstrated two possible patterns: (a) That NNS listeners tended to show high awareness towards phonological aspects of language rather than lexicogrammatical aspects of language; and (b) the comprehensibility ratings of NS listeners were equally influenced by all kinds of linguistic errors. These findings were carefully discussed in order to inform both theoretical argument and pedagogical inquiries in practice, establishing better understanding of second language acquisition processes.

Keywords: comprehensibility, intelligibility, pronunciation teaching, linguistic error analysis