Volume 44, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0172-8865
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9730
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



This paper investigates the use of Nigerian English in lingua-franca interaction in Germany, focussing on the perspective of the German listener. Fifty-eight German-speaking respondents were asked to transcribe short extracts from English interviews recorded with Nigerian immigrants and sojourners resident in Germany. In addition to testing comprehension, respondents were requested to rate samples along parameters designed to measure speaker likability and competence. The study’s two major findings are that, in spite of the absence of contextual clues, respondents perform better than expected in the comprehension task, but that the single greatest obstacle to comprehension is the presence of German-language material in the stimulus. As realistic English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) interaction in Germany necessarily involves a level of English-German mixing, the experiment thus points to a major practical problem in ELF interaction. The study also yields provisional findings on gender (with male voices being understood better than female ones) and interactions between assumptions about speakers and transcription performance that should be revisited in future research.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Babel, Molly, and Jamie Russell
    2015 “Expectations and Speech Intelligibility.” The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America1371: 2823–2833. 10.1121/1.4919317
    https://doi.org/10.1121/1.4919317 [Google Scholar]
  2. Bachmann, Max
    2022Levenshtein Python C Extension Module. Python package version 0.18.1. https://maxbachmann.github.io/Levenshtein (accessedFebruary 24, 2022).
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Baese-Berk, Melissa M., Ann R. Bradlow, and Beverly A. Wright
    2013 “Accent-Independent Adaptation to Foreign Accented Speech.” The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America1331: 174–180. 10.1121/1.4789864
    https://doi.org/10.1121/1.4789864 [Google Scholar]
  4. Bent, Tessa, and Melissa M. Baese-Berk
    2021 “Perceptual Learning of Accented Speech.” InJennifer S. Pardo, Lynne C. Nygaard, Robert E. Remez, and David B. Pisoni, eds.The Handbook of Speech Perception. Malden: Wiley: 428–464. 10.1002/9781119184096.ch16
    https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119184096.ch16 [Google Scholar]
  5. Bradlow, Ann R., and Tessa Bent
    2008 “Perceptual Adaptation to Non-Native Speech.” Cognition1061: 707–729. 10.1016/j.cognition.2007.04.005
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2007.04.005 [Google Scholar]
  6. Bradlow, Ann R., and David B. Pisoni
    1999 “Recognition of Spoken Words by Native and Non-Native Listeners: Talker-, Listener-, and Item-Related Factors.” The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America1061: 2074–2085. 10.1121/1.427952
    https://doi.org/10.1121/1.427952 [Google Scholar]
  7. Cavallaro, Francesco, and Ng Bee Chin
    2009 “Between Status and Solidarity in Singapore.” World Englishes281: 143–159. 10.1111/j.1467‑971X.2009.01580.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-971X.2009.01580.x [Google Scholar]
  8. Clarke, Constance M., and Merrill F. Garrett
    2004 “Rapid Adaptation to Foreign-Accented English.” The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America1161: 3647–3658. 10.1121/1.1815131
    https://doi.org/10.1121/1.1815131 [Google Scholar]
  9. Derwing, Tracey M., and Murray J. Munro
    1997 “Accent, Intelligibility and Comprehensibility: Evidence from Four L1s.” Studies in Second Language Acquisition191: 1–16. 10.1017/S0272263197001010
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263197001010 [Google Scholar]
  10. Derwing, Tracey M.
    2003 “What do ESL Students Say about their Accents?” The Canadian Modern Language Review591: 547–567. 10.3138/cmlr.59.4.547
    https://doi.org/10.3138/cmlr.59.4.547 [Google Scholar]
  11. Dixon, John A., Berenice Mahoney, and Roger Cocks
    2002 “Accents of Guilt? Effects of Regional Accent, Race, and Crime Type on Attributions of Guilt.” Journal of Language and Social Psychology211: 162–168. 10.1177/02627X02021002004
    https://doi.org/10.1177/02627X02021002004 [Google Scholar]
  12. Du Bois, Inke
    2019 “Linguistic Profiling across Neighborhoods: Turkish, American and German Names and Accents in Urban Apartment Search.” Journal of Language and Discrimination (JLD)31: 92–119. 10.1558/jld.39973
    https://doi.org/10.1558/jld.39973 [Google Scholar]
  13. Foluke, Fatimayin
    2012 “Perceptual Convergence as an Index of the Intelligibility and Acceptability of Three Nigerian English Accents.” International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature11: 100–115. 10.7575/ijalel.v.1n.5p.100
    https://doi.org/10.7575/ijalel.v.1n.5p.100 [Google Scholar]
  14. Gamer, Matthias, Jim Lemon, and Ian Fellows Puspendra Singh
    2019irr: Various Coefficients of Interrater Reliability and Agreement. R package version 0.84.1. https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=irr (accessedFebruary 24, 2022).
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Giles, Howard, and Bernadette Watson
    eds. 2013The Social Meaning of Language, Dialect and Accent: International Perspectives on Speech Styles. Frankfurt: Lang.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Gogolin, Ingrid
    1997 “The Monolingual Habitus as the Common Feature of Teaching in the Language of the Majority in Different Countries.” Per Linguam131: 38–49.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Gut, Ulrike
    2004 “Nigerian English: Phonology.” InBernd Kortmann, and Edgar Schneider (with Kate Burridge, Rajend Mesthrie, and Clive Upton), eds.A Handbook of Varieties of English. Vol11: Phonology. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 813–840.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. 2017 “Hat or At? /h/-Deletion and /h/-Insertion in Nigerian English.” InInyang Udofot, Luke Eyoh, and Juliet Udoudom, eds.West African Varieties of English, Literature, Pidgins and Creoles. Ikot Ekpene: Development Universal Consortia, 48–59.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Hanulíková, Adriana
    2021 “Do Faces Speak Volumes? Social Expectations in Speech Comprehension and Evaluation across Three Age Groups.” PLoS ONE161: e0259230. 10.1371/journal.pone.0259230
    https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0259230 [Google Scholar]
  20. Johnson, Keith
    1997 “Speech Perception without Speaker Normalization: An Exemplar Model.” InKeith Johnson, and John W. Mullennix, eds.Talker Variability in Speech Processing. San Diego: Academic Press, 145–165.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. 2006 “Resonance in an Exemplar-Based Lexicon: The Emergence of Social Identity and Phonology.” Journal of Phonetics341: 485–499. 10.1016/j.wocn.2005.08.004
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wocn.2005.08.004 [Google Scholar]
  22. Kachru, Braj B.
    1985 “Standards, Codification, and Sociolinguistic Realism: The English Language in the Outer Circle.” InRandolph Quirk, and Henry Widdowson, eds.English in the World: Teaching and Learning of Language and Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 11–30.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. 1990 “World Englishes and Applied Linguistics.” World Englishes91: 3–20. 10.1111/j.1467‑971X.1990.tb00683.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-971X.1990.tb00683.x [Google Scholar]
  24. Kircher, Ruth, and Sue Fox
    2019 “Multicultural London English and its Speakers: A Corpus-Informed Discourse Study of Standard Language Ideology and Social Stereotypes.” Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development401: 1–19.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Kutlu, Ethan
    2020 “Now You See Me, Now You Mishear Me: Raciolinguistic Accounts of Speech Perception in Different English Varieties.” Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development. 10.1080/01434632.2020.1835929
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01434632.2020.1835929 [Google Scholar]
  26. Kutlu, Ethan, Mehrgol Tiv, Stefanie Wulff, and Debra Titone
    2021 “The Impact of Race on Speech Perception and Accentedness Judgements in Racially Diverse and Non-Diverse Groups.” Applied Linguistics. 10.1093/applin/amab072
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amab072 [Google Scholar]
  27. Lev-Ari, Shiri
    2017 “Talking to Fewer People Leads to Having more Malleable Linguistic Representations.” PLoS ONE121. 10.1371/journal.pone.0183593
    https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0183593 [Google Scholar]
  28. Lippi-Green, Rosina
    2012English with an Accent: Language, Ideology and Discrimination in the United States (2nd ed.) New York: Routledge. 10.4324/9780203348802
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203348802 [Google Scholar]
  29. Mair, Christian
    2020 “Nigerian English in Germany.” World Englishes411: 296–317. 10.1111/weng.12526
    https://doi.org/10.1111/weng.12526 [Google Scholar]
  30. Maye, Jessica, Richard N. Aslin, and Michael K. Tanenhaus
    2008 “The Weckud Wetch of the Wast: Lexical Adaptation to a Novel Accent.” Cognitive Science321: 543–562. 10.1080/03640210802035357
    https://doi.org/10.1080/03640210802035357 [Google Scholar]
  31. McGowan, Kevin B.
    2015 “Social Expectation Improves Speech Perception in Noise.” Language and Speech581: 502–521. 10.1177/0023830914565191
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0023830914565191 [Google Scholar]
  32. Munro, Murray J., and Tracey M. Derwing
    1995 “Processing Time, Accent and Comprehensibility in the Perception of Native and Foreign-Accented Speech.” Language and Speech381: 289–306. 10.1177/002383099503800305
    https://doi.org/10.1177/002383099503800305 [Google Scholar]
  33. Mutonya, Mungai
    2009Language Attitudes towards Varieties of African English. Saarbrücken: VDM Verlag Dr. Müller.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Nelson, Cecil
    1982 “Intelligibility and Non-Native Varieties of English.” InBraj Kachru, ed.The Other Tongue. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 58–73.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Oyebola, Folajimi
    2020 “Attitudes of Nigerians towards Accents of English”. Ph.D. Dissertation, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster https://miami.uni-muenster.de/Record/d65e604a-d3ed-4323-8f5d-1c2735905cfe.
  36. Oyebola, Folajimi, and Ulrike Gut
    2020 “Nigerian Newscasters’ English as a Model of Standard Nigerian English.” Poznan Studies in Contemporary Linguistics561: 231–234. 10.1515/psicl‑2020‑0022
    https://doi.org/10.1515/psicl-2020-0022 [Google Scholar]
  37. Rickford, John R.
    2019Variation, Versatility and Change in Sociolinguistics and Creole Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/9781316091142
    https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316091142 [Google Scholar]
  38. RStudio Team
    RStudio Team 2021RStudio: Integrated Development Environment for R. Version 2021.9.1.372. www.rstudio.org/ (accessedFebruary 24, 2022).
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Rubin, Donald L.
    1992 “Non-Language Factors Affecting Undergraduates’ Judgments of Non-Native English-speaking Teaching Assistants.” Research in Higher Education331: 511–531. 10.1007/BF00973770
    https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00973770 [Google Scholar]
  40. Sharma, Devyani
    2021 “Social Class across Borders: Transnational Elites in British Ideological Space.” Journal of Sociolinguistics251: 682–702. 10.1111/josl.12520
    https://doi.org/10.1111/josl.12520 [Google Scholar]
  41. Sharma, Devyani, Erez Levon, Dominic Watt, Yang Ye, and Amanda Cardoso
    2019 “Methods for the Study of Accent Bias and Access to Elite Professions.” Journal of Language and Discrimination (JLD)31: 150–172. 10.1558/jld.39979
    https://doi.org/10.1558/jld.39979 [Google Scholar]
  42. Simo Bobda, Augustin
    2007 “Some Segmental Rules of Nigerian English Phonology.” English World-Wide281: 279–310. 10.1075/eww.28.3.04sim
    https://doi.org/10.1075/eww.28.3.04sim [Google Scholar]
  43. Tan, Ying-Ying, and Christina Castelli
    2013 “Intelligibility and Attitudes: How American English and Singapore English are Perceived around the World.” English World-Wide341: 177–201. 10.1075/eww.34.2.03tan
    https://doi.org/10.1075/eww.34.2.03tan [Google Scholar]
  44. Trudgill, Peter
    1972 “Sex, Covert Prestige and Linguistic Change in the Urban British English of Norwich.” Language in Society11: 179–195. 10.1017/S0047404500000488
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404500000488 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error