Speech Prosody 2012
This paper investigates foreign accent by comparing vowel
production of native speakers, heritage and non-native learners
with data from a large corpus of spontaneous Chinese learner
speech. Snippets were evaluated by untrained Mandarin raters
on accent ratings and followed up with acoustic analysis of
The rating result showed a high correlation between accent and pronunciation. It is found that it is easier to improve the goodness of pronunciation, but the impression of accent is hard to change. Duration and formant studies reveal that L1 transfer has long-term impact on accent. The vowel [u] produced by second language learners was more fronted than that by native speakers. The vowel [y] is difficult for learners who associate front vowel with unrounding or, alternatively, whose performance falls between [y] and [u]. The formant space of Mandarin low vowels [a] and [ɑ] produced by learners were in the opposite direction from the way native speakers did or were not distinguished. The research findings have implication on language teaching and pronunciation training method.
Index Terms: foreign accent, Mandarin vowels, second language acquisition
Bibliographic reference. Wu, Chen-huei / Shih, Chilin (2012): "A corpus study of native and non-native vowel quality", In SP-2012, 234-237.