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Listening to accents : comprehensibility, accentedness and intelligibility of native and non-native English speech

Gil Verbeke (UGent) and Ellen Simon (UGent)
(2023) LINGUA. 292.
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Abstract
This study investigates how well English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learners report understanding (i.e. comprehensibility) and actually understand (i.e. intelligibility) native and non-native accents of English, and how EFL learners’ self-reported ease of understanding and actual understanding of these accents are aligned. Thirty-three Dutch-speaking EFL learners performed a comprehensibility and accentedness judgement task, followed by an orthographic transcription task. The judgement task elicited listeners’ scalar ratings of authentic speech from eight speakers with traditional Inner, Outer and Expanding Circle accents. The transcription task assessed listeners’ actual understanding of 40 sentences produced by the same eight speakers. Speakers with Inner Circle accents were reported to be more comprehensible than speakers with non-Inner Circle accents, with Expanding Circle speakers being easier to understand than Outer Circle speakers. The strength of a speaker’s accent significantly affected listeners’ comprehensibility ratings. Most speakers were highly intelligible, with transcription accuracy ranging between 79% and 95%. Listeners’ self-reported ease of understanding the speakers in our study generally matched their actual understanding of those speakers, but no correlation between comprehensibility and intelligibility was detected. The study foregrounds the effect of native and non-native accents on comprehensibility and intelligibility, and highlights the importance of multidialectal listening skills.
Keywords
Comprehensibility, English as a Foreign Language (EFL), Intelligibility, Language variation, L2 listening, Native and non-native accents, FOREIGN ACCENT, LANGUAGE, ADAPTATION, PERCEPTION, VARIETIES, STRENGTH, EXPERIENCE, TALKER, NOISE

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Citation

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MLA
Verbeke, Gil, and Ellen Simon. “Listening to Accents : Comprehensibility, Accentedness and Intelligibility of Native and Non-Native English Speech.” LINGUA, vol. 292, 2023, doi:10.1016/j.lingua.2023.103572.
APA
Verbeke, G., & Simon, E. (2023). Listening to accents : comprehensibility, accentedness and intelligibility of native and non-native English speech. LINGUA, 292. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lingua.2023.103572
Chicago author-date
Verbeke, Gil, and Ellen Simon. 2023. “Listening to Accents : Comprehensibility, Accentedness and Intelligibility of Native and Non-Native English Speech.” LINGUA 292. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lingua.2023.103572.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Verbeke, Gil, and Ellen Simon. 2023. “Listening to Accents : Comprehensibility, Accentedness and Intelligibility of Native and Non-Native English Speech.” LINGUA 292. doi:10.1016/j.lingua.2023.103572.
Vancouver
1.
Verbeke G, Simon E. Listening to accents : comprehensibility, accentedness and intelligibility of native and non-native English speech. LINGUA. 2023;292.
IEEE
[1]
G. Verbeke and E. Simon, “Listening to accents : comprehensibility, accentedness and intelligibility of native and non-native English speech,” LINGUA, vol. 292, 2023.
@article{01H4FR9T58HXFF8M481J14FWMB,
  abstract     = {{This study investigates how well English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learners report understanding (i.e. comprehensibility) and actually understand (i.e. intelligibility) native and non-native accents of English, and how EFL learners’ self-reported ease of understanding and actual understanding of these accents are aligned. Thirty-three Dutch-speaking EFL learners performed a comprehensibility and accentedness judgement task, followed by an orthographic transcription task. The judgement task elicited listeners’ scalar ratings of authentic speech from eight speakers with traditional Inner, Outer and Expanding Circle accents. The transcription task assessed listeners’ actual understanding of 40 sentences produced by the same eight speakers. Speakers with Inner Circle accents were reported to be more comprehensible than speakers with non-Inner Circle accents, with Expanding Circle speakers being easier to understand than Outer Circle speakers. The strength of a speaker’s accent significantly affected listeners’ comprehensibility ratings. Most speakers were highly intelligible, with transcription accuracy ranging between 79% and 95%. Listeners’ self-reported ease of understanding the speakers in our study generally matched their actual understanding of those speakers, but no correlation between comprehensibility and intelligibility was detected. The study foregrounds the effect of native and non-native accents on comprehensibility and intelligibility, and highlights the importance of multidialectal listening skills.}},
  articleno    = {{103572}},
  author       = {{Verbeke, Gil and Simon, Ellen}},
  issn         = {{0024-3841}},
  journal      = {{LINGUA}},
  keywords     = {{Comprehensibility,English as a Foreign Language (EFL),Intelligibility,Language variation,L2 listening,Native and non-native accents,FOREIGN ACCENT,LANGUAGE,ADAPTATION,PERCEPTION,VARIETIES,STRENGTH,EXPERIENCE,TALKER,NOISE}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  pages        = {{25}},
  title        = {{Listening to accents : comprehensibility, accentedness and intelligibility of native and non-native English speech}},
  url          = {{http://doi.org/10.1016/j.lingua.2023.103572}},
  volume       = {{292}},
  year         = {{2023}},
}

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