Research Project: Accents of English: the cases of Polish, Swedish, Vietnamese, Chinese and Spanish

Project leader
Project Members
Una Cunningham
Ewa Waniek-Klimczak, Engelska University of Lodz, Polen
Project Period
Project Status
The proposed project examines the English pronunciation of speakers of a selection of first languages (L1s), with an aim of coming closer to an understanding of the way the phonological structure and phonotactic constraints (limitations in the possible combination of sounds in a syllable) of a speaker’s first and other languages affect their pronunciation of English.
It is well known that foreign accent is the result of a combination of influence from the L1 and additional languages as well as only vaguely understood other factors such as typologically unusual features of the target language and differences in the strategies adopted by the speakers of particular L1s to get around differences between the L1 and English, as well as matters of individual and national identity marking.
For example, while Vietnamese and Spanish both have severe phonotactic limitations on syllable structure, the English of Spanish and Vietnamese speakers involves different compensatory strategies; where Polish and Swedish are both languages with considerable differences in the timing of stressed and unstressed syllables, the Englishes of their speakers display different timing mechanisms; where Swedish and English both have vowel length distinctions, and Vietnamese and Spanish do not, the timing of English utterances produced by speakers of these languages is realised in an L1-specific way. Contrastive Analysis (CA) fell out of favour in Western linguistics in the seventies and eighties, yet the substrate influence of the L1 cannot be ignored in any description of a learner variety. The focus in this project is on the aspects of the pronunciation of non-native speakers that can and cannot be explained by reference to their first language.
brytning, engelska, fonetik, foreign accent, phonetics, English
Research Profile
Language, Learning and Culture
Högskolan Dalarna