Third International Conference on Spoken Language Processing (ICSLP 94)

Yokohama, Japan
September 18-22, 1994

The Intelligibility of Japanese Speakers' Production of American English /r/, /i/, and /w/, as Evaluated by Native Speakers of American English

Reiko A. Yamada (1), Winifred Strange (2), James S. Magnuson (1), John S. Pruitt (2), William D. Clarke (2)

(1) ATR Human Information Processing Research Laboratories, Soraku, Kyoto, Japan
(2) Speech Perception Laboratory, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA

We studied the effects of immersion in an American English (AE) language environment on the intelligibility of the productions of English /r/, /I/, and /w/ in CV syllables by native speakers of Japanese, as judged by native speakers of American English. Stimuli were produced by subjects in 3 language groups: 144 native speakers of Japanese with no experience living in an AE language environment (J subjects), 144 native speakers of Japanese with experience living in an AE speaking environment (JE subjects), and a control group of 24 native speakers of AE (AE subjects). The intelligibility patterns of the 3 groups differed significantly from each other, and the intelligibility of the JE subjects' productions ranged from native-AE-speaker levels to the level of Japanese speakers who had never lived abroad. A comparison of the Japanese subjects' production performance with performance in a perception test revealed a positive correlation between production and perception abilities. There was a negative correlation between production scores and the amount of variance in perception scores, suggesting that in early stages of learning, subjects may acquire articulation more easily than perception. There were also tendencies for age of initial experience in the AE environment to be negatively correlated with production ability, and for duration of experience to be positively correlated with production ability.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Yamada, Reiko A. / Strange, Winifred / Magnuson, James S. / Pruitt, John S. / Clarke, William D. (1994): "The intelligibility of Japanese speakers' production of american English /r/, /i/, and /w/, as evaluated by native speakers of american English", In ICSLP-1994, 2023-2026.