The role of prosody in foreign accent perception and intelligibility


The present study is a theoretical and empirical study on foreign accent and intelligibility perception (Munro, 2008) of L2 English utterances produced by L1 French speakers. A small corpus of learner recordings was collected and prosodically annotated using the Momel algorithm and the Intsint alphabet (Hirst & Espesser, 1993). Recordings were then used to create an accentedness rating survey which was answered by English L1 speakers and French L1 speakers. Descriptive prosodic analyses show that some intonational and rhythmic features of L1 French are transferred onto learners’ L2 English oral production. Survey results show that English native speakers rate accentedness higher than French L1 speakers, and that French L1 speakers perceive a higher intelligibility of utterances produced by French L1 learners of English. Although L1 English listeners rely primarily on segmental cues for accent detection, French listeners rely more on prosodic cues, intonation particularly.


Master’s Thesis - Université Rennes 2

Leonardo Contreras Roa
Leonardo Contreras Roa
Associate Professor in English Phonetics and Phonology

Phonetician and English teacher, PhD in Linguistics