Volume 3, Issue 3  December 2020, pp. 196–212          Download PDF

Regular Articles
Intelligibility of L2 speech in ELF

Paul Lochland https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7732-37891

1 Deakin University, Australia p.lochland@deakin.edu.au

DOI: https://doi.org/10.29140/ajal.v3n3.281


This paper investigates the phonology of L2 speech and its impact on intelligibility in English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) contexts. Many studies have considered speaker-related characteristics, such as speech styles and pronunciation features, that influence the intelligibility of L2 speech for both non-native speakers (NNS) and native speakers (NS). However, only a handful of studies have considered what impact listener-related conditions, such as a shared first language (L1) background or L1 typology between NNSs, may have on the intelligibility of their speech. Therefore, an online survey was used to study the intelligibility of Mandarin-English, French-English, Japanese-English, and German-English from the perspective of 100 NNSs. It was hypothesized that a shared L1 or shared L1 typology between two NNSs will enhance the intelligibility of their speech. However, the findings did not support this supposition. For example, the Mandarin speakers did not find Mandarin-English to be more intelligible than Japanese-English or any of the other two accent types. Similarly, the results indicated that a shared L1 typology between two NNSs does not improve the intelligibility of their speech. The data did suggest however that a listeners’ familiarity to one accent type may improve the intelligibility of a typologically related novel L2 accent. The limitations of the findings are discussed along with their implications for future research directions.

Received 5 April, 2020
Accepted 29 September, 2020
Published 28 December, 2020


© Paul Lochland

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Suggested citation

Lochland, P. (2020). Intelligibility of L2 speech in ELF. Australian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 3(3), 196–212. https://doi.org/10.29140/ajal.v3n3.281

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