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The effects of age of second language learning on the production of English vowels

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 November 2008

Murray J. Munro*
Affiliation:
Simon Fraster University
James Emil Flege
Affiliation:
University of Alabama, Birmingham
Ian R. A. Mackay
Affiliation:
University of Ottawa
*
Murray J. Munro, Department of Linguistics, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia V5A lS6, Canada

Abstract

This study examined the English vowel productions of 240 native speakers of Italian who had arrived in Canada at ages ranging from 2 to 23 years and 24 native English speakers from the same community. The productions of 11 vowels were rated for degree of foreign accent by 10 listeners. An increase in perceived accentedness as a function of increasing age of arrival was observed on every vowel. Not one of the vowels was observed to be produced in a consistently native-like manner by the latest-arriving learners, even though they had been living in Canada for an average of 32 years. However, high intelligibility (percent correct identification) scores were obtained for the same set of productions. This was true even for English vowels that have no counterpart in Italian.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1996

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