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Journal of Second Language Pronunciation

image of Journal of Second Language Pronunciation
ISSN 2215-1931
E-ISSN 2215-194X

The Journal of Second Language Pronunciation is a scholarly journal devoted to research into the acquisition, perception, production, teaching, assessment, and description of prosodic and segmental pronunciation of second languages in all contexts of learning. The journal encourages research that connects theory and practice, enhances our understanding of L2 phonological learning processes, and provides connections between L2 pronunciation and other areas of applied linguistics such as pragmatics, CALL, and speech perception. Contributions focusing on empirical research will represent all portions of the methodological spectrum including quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods studies. The journal invites papers on topics such as intelligibility and comprehensibility, accent, phonological acquisition, the use of technology (such as automatic speech recognition, text-to-speech, and CAPT), spoken language assessment, the social impact of L2 pronunciation, the ethics of pronunciation teaching, pronunciation acquisition in less commonly taught languages, speech perception and its relationship to speech production, and other topics.


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  • A prospectus for pronunciation research in the 21st century: A point of view
    • Authors: Murray J. Munro, and Tracey M. Derwing
    • Source: Journal of Second Language Pronunciation, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2015, pages: 11 –42
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    • This inaugural issue of the Journal of Second Language Pronunciation, an auspicious step forward in our field, gives us an opportunity to take stock of current trends in pronunciation research with an eye to the future of this evolving field. As longtime researchers, we have learned many lessons by trial and error and wish to share our perspectives on sound methodological practices and on pitfalls to avoid. Our review follows the outline of a traditional experimental investigation, starting with the conceptualization of pronunciation research studies. We then discuss theoretical motivations, choice of constructs, and issues arising from the literature review. Next we compare several research designs and summarize types of data commonly used in pronunciation research. We then move on to consider data collection and analysis, focusing on reliability, effect sizes, and speaker variability, and to offer some caveats regarding the interpretation of results. We conclude by suggesting areas for future second language speech research, in terms of both replications and new studies.
  • Beyond rating data: What do listeners believe underlies their accentedness judgments?
    • Authors: Rachel Hayes-Harb, and Jane F. Hacking
    • Source: Journal of Second Language Pronunciation, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2015, pages: 43 –64
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    • The accentedness judgment task is widely used in the study of second language speech, and has proven to elicit remarkably reliable ratings across listeners. Despite this reliability, however, we know little about how listeners arrive at accentedness ratings. In the present study we seek to illuminate the role that listener attitudes and expectations play in assessments of accentedness by probing listeners’ explicit criteria for the judgments. We asked ten native English listeners to rate the accentedness of five native Bosnian and five native English speakers, and then to justify their ratings in a semi-structured interview. Analysis of the interview data indicates that despite the elegance of quantitative accentedness data and its remarkable reliability, it appears that when making accentedness judgments, listeners may activate a complex set of attitudes and expectations about speakers that go far beyond a straightforward bottom-up analysis of the speech signal.
  • Quasi-neutralization in the acquisition of English coronal fricatives by native speakers of Japanese
    • Authors: Emiko Kaneko, Younghyon Heo, Gregory K. Iverson, and Ian Wilson
    • Source: Journal of Second Language Pronunciation, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2015, pages: 65 –85
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    • Second language learners show various forms of mispronunciation, or modification, of target pronunciation, most perhaps due to direct native language transfer, but others, summarized here, to deflected contrast, hypercorrection and covert contrast. The present paper reports on a novel form of adaptation that we term ‘quasi-neutralization,’ in which acoustic characteristics of competing target phonemes are found within the same interlanguage segment (e.g., think [θɪŋk] pronounced as [θsiŋk]). The three English voiceless coronal fricatives /s/, /ʃ/, /θ/ were elicited from Japanese learners of English via two techniques: a wordlist reading task that encouraged participants to focus on their pronunciation, and a sentence construction task that diverted their attention from pronunciation. Among different types of modification, quasi-neutralization was observed predominantly when participants were conscious of their pronunciation, which could reflect their linguistic insecurity as learners. This research thus illuminates another of the strategies that learners employ in the acquisition of L2 pronunciation.
  • Acquisition of L2 Mandarin Chinese tones with learner-created tone visualizations
    • Authors: Dorothy M. Chun, Yan Jiang, Justine Meyr, and Rong Yang
    • Source: Journal of Second Language Pronunciation, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2015, pages: 86 –114
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    • This paper reports on a study of 35 Mandarin Chinese learners who (1) created pitch curves of their spoken word tones and (2) compared their pitch curves with those of native speakers while practicing pronunciation. Following a pretest, the learners received training for 20–25 minutes weekly over nine weeks and took a posttest. Two types of data analyses were performed. First, native speakers of Mandarin auditorily rated the pretests and posttests. The ratings revealed that learners’ pronunciation of tones improved between pretest and posttest. Second, acoustic analyses of the learners’ recordings were conducted, and the learners’ production was compared with that of native speakers. Results indicated that students’ pronunciation of some tones improved in the posttest. The postsurveys indicated that two-thirds of the participants found viewing pitch curves helpful. This study confirms previous research but suggests that acoustic analyses complement auditory analyses with more precise indications of L2 learners’ tonal difficulties.
  • Style-shifting and intra-speaker variation in the vowel production of nonnative speakers of New Zealand English
    • Author: Ksenia Gnevsheva
    • Source: Journal of Second Language Pronunciation, Volume 1, Issue 2, 2015, pages: 135 –156
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    • When compared to native-speaker language ‘targets’, second language (L2) speakers are known to exhibit within-speaker variation in their L2 language performance according to the identity of their interlocutor (Beebe & Zuengler, 1983), the topic that is being discussed (Dolgova Jacobsen, 2008), or both (Rampton, 2011). However, previous studies have rarely applied the same methodology to different first language (L1) groups and have rarely used data from a range of speakers, so they have been unable to explore differences between speaker groups. This paper examines situational style-shifting in L2 speakers of New Zealand English in two groups of speakers, one with Korean as their L1 and the other with German as their L1. Participants were recorded in three different settings: discussing family, discussing work, and in an authentic service encounter. Male and female speakers showed similar patterns, and all were found to exhibit stylistic variation in their production of English vowels such that tokens were most nativelike in service encounters, followed by discussion of work and then family. This pattern was more robust for the Korean L1 speakers than for the German L1 speakers, which is explained by different social and linguistic histories of the two groups in New Zealand. This paper adds to our current understanding of sociolinguistic variation in L2 speakers by applying audience design (Bell, 1984) and identity construction (Eckert, 2000) accounts to L2 speakers’ production of vowels.
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