Vowels as a Factor in German L2 English: A Perceptual Study and Acoustic Analysis
(2017) Vowels as a Factor in German L2 English: A Perceptual Study and Acoustic Analysis, no. 38.
This study investigated non native accents of native Germans speaking English as their second language (L2). It sought to find out whether vowels alone could identify a German L2 English speaker as non-native, and investigated acoustic properties which differed between German L2 speakers of English and native Scottish speakers of English. Vowels used included [a], [i], [I], [ᴧ;], [ai], and [au]. A perceptual study was set up using speech data of three German and three Scottish speakers and samples of the aforementioned vowels were extracted and played individually to 20 different Scottish listener participants. Each participant rated each vowel on a scale of 1-7 indicating how 'non-native' it sounded to them. Acoustic analysis was carried out using PRAAT, and several acoustic properties were obtained including F0, F1, F2, pitch range and duration. These results provided suggestions of what features caused the particular utterance to be perceived as non-native. The German L2 English speakers were found to be rated as sounding more non-native overall and significant differences were found in the statistics, however the statistical analysis carried out on the acoustic values revealed no significant statistical differences due to the limited number of speakers available. A descriptive analysis of the data revealed some tendencies by the German speakers which explains the listeners' perception of sounding more non-native, and backs up the theory that articulatory settings are a significant factor in non-native accents.