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Pre-aspiration and Plosives in Icelandic English
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2015 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

For this study, two groups of native Icelandic speakers were compared in terms of the acoustic properties of their English pronunciation of two phonetic phenomena, plosives and pre-aspiration. In English, plosives with the same manner and place of articulation are distinguished by means of a voicing contrast, whereas in Icelandic, plosives are distinguished by means of an aspiration contrast. This study examines whether participants exhibit interlanguage features in their plosive contrasts in English, substituting unaspirated voiceless plosives for voiced counterparts. Furthermore, this study looks at pre-aspiration, a phonetic feature of Icelandic, characterized by glottal friction following a short vowel preceding a fortis plosive (VhC). Pre-aspiration is not a feature of standard English varieties such as general American (GA) or received pronunciation (RP), and as such this study examines whether participants retain pre-aspiration in their English pronunciation or not. Participants numbered 16 in total, and were all L1 speakers of Icelandic, with eight in each group, four male and four female. The groups were divided by means of age differences, with the first group consisting of participants aged 20-26, and the second group of participants aged 44-50. Participants were asked to partake in a short informal interview, to read a short written passage, and to read a word list. The interview and readings were recorded and analysed using spectrograms and waveforms, and subsequently compared with English and Icelandic reference values for voice onset time (VOT), which vary between the two languages, and pre-aspiration duration in Icelandic. The two groups were also compared to determine whether there were any lingering differences between them. The conclusions drawn are that VOT in English and Icelandic may be more similar than assumed, and that participants shorten pre-aspiration duration or neutralize pre-aspiration when speaking English. However, the English production of the features are more similar to Icelandic than English. Furthermore, the results do not indicate any differences between the two age groups in terms of English pronunciation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Pre-aspiration, Voice Onset Time (VOT), Acoustic Phonetics, English as a Foreign Language (EFL), Second Language Acquisition (SLA)
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-126015OAI: diva2:896631
Available from: 2016-01-22 Created: 2016-01-21 Last updated: 2016-01-22Bibliographically approved

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