Volume 6, Issue 3
  • ISSN 2215-1931
  • E-ISSN: 2215-194X
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The Lingua Franca Core (LFC) proposes that NURSE is the only vowel quality important for international intelligibility, yet research findings regarding this issue are mixed. Moreover, it is unclear whether phonetic (rather than phonemic) substitutions of NURSE also affect international intelligibility more negatively than other phonemic vowel substitutions, though this seems unlikely on the basis of considerations of functional load (FL). This study compares the international intelligibility of two vowel substitutions typical of Austrian learners of English: the phonetic replacement of NURSE with a rounded and diphthongized vowel, and the phonemic replacement of TRAP with a vowel close to cardinal [e]. The findings suggest that, contrary to the LFC but in line with FL considerations, the phonetic substitution of NURSE is more intelligible to an international audience than the substitution of TRAP with [e]. However, differences in intelligibility between the two substitutions were largely ‘neutralized’ once contextual support was available.


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