Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Evaluating the effects of chronological age and sentence duration on degree of perceived foreign accent

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 March 2006

IAN R. A. MACKAY
Affiliation:
University of Ottawa
JAMES E. FLEGE
Affiliation:
University of Alabama at Birmingham
SATOMI IMAI
Affiliation:
University of Alabama at Birmingham

Abstract

Immigrants' age of arrival (AOA) in a country where a second language (L2) must be learned has consistently been shown to affect the degree of perceived L2 foreign accent. Although the effect of AOA appears strong, AOA is typically correlated with other variables that might influence degree of foreign accent. This study examined the pronunciation of English by native Italian immigrants to Canada who differed in AOA. As in previous research, those who arrived as young adults (late learners) were somewhat older at the time of testing, and produced somewhat longer English sentences, than those who arrived in Canada when they were children (early learners). The results of Experiment 1 showed that the greater chronological age of early than late learners was not responsible for the late learners' stronger foreign accents. Experiment 2 suggested that the late learners' longer L2 sentences were not responsible for observed early–late foreign accent differences. A principle components analysis revealed that variation in AOA and language use, but not chronological age or sentence duration, accounted for a significant amount of variance in the foreign accent ratings. The findings of the study were interpreted to mean that AOA effects on foreign accent are due to the development of the native language phonetic system rather than to maturational constraints on L2 speech learning.

Type
Articles
Copyright
2006 Cambridge University Press

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.

References

Anderson-Hsieh J., Johnson R., & Koehler K.1992. The relationship between native speaker judgments of nonnative pronunciation and deviance in segmentals, prosody, and syllable structure. Language Learning, 42, 529555.Google Scholar
Bahrick H., Hall L., Goggin J., Bahrick L., & Berger S.1994. Fifty years of language maintenance and language dominance in bilingual Hispanic immigrants. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 123, 264283.Google Scholar
Baker W., Trofimovich P., Mack M., & Flege J.2002. The effect of perceived phonetic similarity on non-native sound learning by children and adults. In B. Skarabela, S. Fish, & A. Do (Eds.), Proceedings of the 26th annual Boston University Conference on Language Development (pp. 3647). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
Bates E.1999. Plasticity, localization and language development. In S. Broman & J. M. Fletcher (Eds.), The changing nervous system: Neurobehavioral consequences of early brain disorders (pp. 214253). New York: Oxford University Press.
Bialystok E., Craik F., Klein R., & Viswanathan M.2004. Bilingualism, aging, and cognitive control: Evidence from the Simon task. Psychology and Aging, 19, 290303.Google Scholar
Bialystok E., & Hakuta K.1999. Confounded age: Linguistic and cognitive factors in age differences for second language acquisition. In D. Birdsong (Ed.), Second language acquisition and the critical period hypothesis (pp. 161181). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Bongaerts T., Mennen S., & van der Slik F.2000. Authenticity of pronunciation in naturalistic second language acquisition: The case of very advanced late learners of Dutch as a second language. Studia Linguistica, 54, 298308.Google Scholar
Byrd D.1994. Relations of sex and dialect to reduction. Speech Communication, 15, 3954.Google Scholar
Cunningham-Anderson U., & Engstrand O.1989. Perceived strength of foreign accent and identity of foreign accent in Swedish. Phonetica, 46, 138154.Google Scholar
DeKeyser R.2000. The robustness of critical period effects in second language acquisition. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 22, 499534.Google Scholar
Flege J.1987. A critical period for learning to pronounce foreign languages? Applied Linguistics, 8, 162177.Google Scholar
Flege J.1988. Factors affecting degree of perceived foreign accent in English sentences. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 84, 7079.Google Scholar
Flege J.1995. Second-language speech learning: Theory, findings, and problems. In W. Strange (Ed.), Speech perception and linguistic experience: Issues in cross-language research (pp. 229273). Timonium, MD: York Press.
Flege J.1998. The role of subject and phonetic variables in L2 speech acquisition. In M. Gruber, D. Higgins, K. Olsen, & T. Wysocki (Eds.), Papers from the 34th annual meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society: Vol. II. The Panels (pp. 213232). Chicago: Chicago Linguistic Society.
Flege J.1999. Age of learning and second-language speech. In D. Birdsong (Ed.), Second language acquisition and the critical period hypothesis (pp. 101132). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Flege J.2002. Interactions between the native and second-language phonetic systems. In P. Burmeister, T. Piske, & A. Rohde (Eds.), An integrated view of language development: Papers in honor of Henning Wode (pp. 217244). Trier, Germany: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag.
Flege J.2003. Assessing constraints on second-language segmental production and perception. In A. Meyer & N. Schiller (Eds.), Phonetics and phonology in language comprehension and production; Differences and similarities (pp. 319355). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Flege J., & Fletcher K.1992. Talker and listener effects on the perception of degree of foreign accent. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 91, 370389.Google Scholar
Flege J., Frieda A., & Nozawa T.1997. Amount of native-language (L1) use affects the pronunciation of an L2. Journal of Phonetics, 25, 169186.Google Scholar
Flege J., & Liu S.2001. The effect of experience on adults' acquisition of a second language. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 23, 527552.Google Scholar
Flege J., & MacKay I. R. A.2004. Perceiving vowels in a second language. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 26, 134.Google Scholar
Flege J., MacKay I. R. A., & Piske T.2002. Assessing bilingual dominance. Journal of Applied Psycholinguistics, 23, 567598.Google Scholar
Flege J., MacKay I. R. A., & Imai S.2005. Accounting for age effects on overall degree of foreign accent in a second language. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Flege J., & Munro M.1994. The word unit in L2 speech production and perception. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 16, 381411.Google Scholar
Flege J., Munro M., & MacKay I. R. A.1995a. Factors affecting degree of perceived foreign accent in a second language. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 97, 31253134.Google Scholar
Flege J., Munro M., & MacKay I. R. A.1995b. The effect of age of second language learning on the production of English consonants. Speech Communication, 16, 126.Google Scholar
Flege J., Yeni-Komshian G., & Liu S.1999. Age constraints on second language learning. Journal of Memory and Language, 41, 78104.Google Scholar
Guion S., Flege J., Liu S., & Yeni-Komshian G.2000. Age of learning affects on the duration of sentences produced in a second language. Applied Psycholinguistics, 21, 205228.Google Scholar
Guion S., Flege J., & Loftin J.2000. The effect of L1 use on pronunciation in Quichua-Spanish bilinguals. Journal of Phonetics, 28, 2742.Google Scholar
Hakuta K., & Bialystok E.1994. In other words: The science and psychology of second-language acquisition. New York: Basic Books.
Hakuta K., Bialystok E., & Wiley E.2003. Critical evidence: A test of the critical-period hypothesis for second-language acquisition. Psychological Science, 14, 3138.Google Scholar
Hazan V., & Barrett S.2000. The development of phonemic categorisation in children aged 6 to 12. Journal of Phonetics, 28, 377396.Google Scholar
Imai S., Walley A., & Flege J.2005. Lexical frequency and neighborhood density effects on the recognition of native and Spanish-accented words by native English and Spanish listeners. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 117, 896907.Google Scholar
Iverson P., Kuhl P., Akahane-Yamada R., Diesch E., Tohkura Y., Kettermann A., & Siebert C.2003. A perceptual interference account of acquisition difficulties for non-native phonemes. Cognition, 87, B47B57.Google Scholar
Jia G., & Aaronson D.1999. Age differences in second language acquisition: The dominant language switch and maintenance hypothesis. In A. Greenhill, H. Littlefield, & C. Tano (Eds.), Proceedings of the 23rd annual Boston University conference on language development (pp. 301312). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
Johnson C.2000. Children's phoneme identification in reverberation and noise. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 43, 129143.Google Scholar
Jonasson J., & McAllister R.1972. Foreign accent and timing: An instrumental phonetic study. Papers from the Institute of Linguistics University of Stockholm, 14, 1140.Google Scholar
Lee S., Potamianos A., & Narayanan S.1999. Acoustics of children's speech: Developmental changes of temporal and spectral parameters. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 105, 14551468.Google Scholar
MacKay I. R. A., & Flege J.2004. Effects of the age of second-language learning on the duration of first-language and second-language sentences: The role of suppression. Applied Psycholinguistics, 25, 373396.Google Scholar
Magen H.1998. The perception of foreign-accented speech. Journal of Phonetics, 26, 381400.Google Scholar
McCandliss B., Fiez J., Protopapas A., Conway M., & McClelland J.2002. Success and failure in teaching the [r]–[l] contrast to Japanese adults: Predictions of a Hebbian model of plasticity and stabilization in spoken language perception. Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience, 2, 89108.Google Scholar
Metz D., Samar V., Schiavetti N., Sitler R., & Whitehead R.1985. Acoustic dimensions of hearing-impaired speakers' intelligibility. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 28, 345355.Google Scholar
Moyer A.1999. Ultimate attainment in L2 phonology: The critical factors of age, motivation, and instruction. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 21, 81108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Munro M.1995. Nonsegmental factors in foreign accent: Ratings of filtered speech. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 17, 1734.Google Scholar
Munro M.1998. The effects of noise on the intelligibility of foreign-accented speech. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 20, 139154.Google Scholar
Munro M., & Derwing T.1998. The effects of speaking rate on listener evaluation of native and foreign-accented speech. Language Learning, 48, 159182.Google Scholar
Munro M., & Derwing T.2001. Modeling perceptions of the accentedness and comprehensibility of L2 speech. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 23, 451468.Google Scholar
Munro M., Flege J., & MacKay I. R. A.1996. The effect of age of second-language learning on the production of English vowels. Applied Psycholinguistics, 17, 313334.Google Scholar
Patkowski M.1990. Age and accent in a second language: A reply to James Emil Flege. Applied Linguistics, 11, 7389.Google Scholar
Pennington M.1992. Discourse factors related to L2 phonological proficiency: An exploratory study. In J. Leather & A. James (Eds.), Proceedings of the 1992 Amsterdam symposium on the acquisition of second-language speech (pp. 137155). Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam, Department of English.
Piske T., MacKay I. R. A., & Flege J.2001. Factors affecting degree of foreign accent in an L2: A review. Journal of Phonetics, 29, 191215.Google Scholar
Raupach M.1980. Temporal variables in first and second language speech production In H. Dechert & M. Raupach (Eds.), Temporal variables in speech: Studies in honour of Frieda Goldman-Eisler (pp. 263270). The Hague: Mouton.
Riggenbach H.1991. Toward an understanding of fluency: A microanalysis of nonnative speaker conversations. Discourse Processes, 14, 423441.Google Scholar
Schairer K.1992. Native speaker reaction to non-native speech. Modern Language Journal, 76, 309319.Google Scholar
Scovel T.1988. A time to speak. A psycholinguistic inquiry into the critical period for human speech. Cambridge: Newbury House Publishers.
Scovel T.2000. A critical review of critical period research. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 20, 213223.Google Scholar
Southwood H., & Flege J.1999. The validity and reliability of scaling foreign accent. Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics, 13, 335349.Google Scholar
Tahta S., Wood M., & Loewenthal K.1981. Foreign accents: Factors relating to transfer of accent from the first language to a second language. Language and Speech, 24, 265272.Google Scholar
Willems N.1982. English intonation from a Dutch point of view. Dordrecht: Foris.

Full text views

Full text views reflects PDF downloads, PDFs sent to Google Drive, Dropbox and Kindle and HTML full text views.

Total number of HTML views: 22
Total number of PDF views: 201 *
View data table for this chart

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 15th January 2021. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Hostname: page-component-77fc7d77f9-zjqt5 Total loading time: 0.419 Render date: 2021-01-15T16:08:30.888Z Query parameters: { "hasAccess": "0", "openAccess": "0", "isLogged": "0", "lang": "en" } Feature Flags last update: Fri Jan 15 2021 15:51:53 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time) Feature Flags: { "metrics": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "peerReview": true, "crossMark": true, "comments": true, "relatedCommentaries": true, "subject": true, "clr": true, "languageSwitch": true, "figures": false, "newCiteModal": false, "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true }

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Evaluating the effects of chronological age and sentence duration on degree of perceived foreign accent
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Evaluating the effects of chronological age and sentence duration on degree of perceived foreign accent
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Evaluating the effects of chronological age and sentence duration on degree of perceived foreign accent
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response


Your details


Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *