Talker and listener effects on degree of perceived foreign accent

Academic Article


  • Four experiments were carried out to examine listener- and talker-related factors that may influence degree of perceived foreign accent. In each, native English listeners rated English sentences for degree of accent. It was found that degree of accent is influenced by range effects. The larger the proportion of native (or near-native) speakers included in a set of sentences being evaluated, the more strongly accented listeners judged sentences spoken by non-native speakers to be. Foreign accent ratings were not stable. Listeners judged a set of non-native-produced sentences to be more strongly accented after, as compared to before, they became familiar with those sentences. One talker-related effect noted in the study was the finding that adults’ pronunciation of an L2 may improve over time. Late L2 learners who had lived in the United States for an average of 14.3 years received significantly higher scores than late learners who had resided in the United States for 0.7 years. Another talker-related effect pertained to the age of L2 learning (AOL). Native Spanish subjects with an AOL of five to six years were not found to have an accent (i.e., to receive significantly lower scores than native English speakers), whereas native Chinese subjects with an average AOL of 7.6 years did have a measurable accent. The paper concludes with the presentation of several hypotheses concerning the relationship between AOL and degree of foreign accent. © 1992, Acoustical Society of America. All rights reserved.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Flege JE; Fletcher KL
  • Start Page

  • 370
  • End Page

  • 389
  • Volume

  • 91
  • Issue

  • 1