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Volume 17 Number 1, Spring 2020, Pages 1-318 PDF Download

Intelligibility and Comprehensibility of Korean English Speakers' Phonological Features in Lingua Franca Listening Contexts

    Justin P. Barrass, Jessica Briggs Baffoe-Djan, Heath Rose & Jill A. Boggs

This study investigated L2 English listeners' intelligibility and comprehensibility ratings of L2 English recordings of L1 Korean speakers' speech. Specifically, it considered which segmentals and features resulting from Korean phonotactics cause a breakdown in Korean speakers' L2 English intelligibility and comprehensibility for Mandarin L1-background L2 English speakers. As Korean speakers use English as a lingua franca primarily with their L1 Mandarin speaking neighbours, recordings of scripted and unscripted speech of Korean university students were sent to L1 Mandarin raters in mainland China and Taiwan, who rated utterances for intelligibility and comprehensibility. Findings showed that the most frequently mistranscribed features were epenthesis (inclusion of extra vowels to separate clustered consonants), substitution of nasals for plosives between vowels and sonorant consonants, and the consonant-vowel combination [wʊ]. Findings also suggest that less problematic features, such as [əʊ], /r/, and the distinction between [ʊ] and [u], are at times aided by similar realisations by L2 listeners.

Keywords: intelligibility, comprehensibility, English as a lingua franca, Korea, pronunciation