Mispronunciation: Do They Really Think That We Eat Lice?

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Noriko Nakanishi, Kobe Gakuin University


When describing the difficulties of English pronunciation, learners in Japan often mention the distinction of the English sounds that are different from Japanese. However, even when segmental sounds are mispronounced, contextual messages in the utterance may offset the risk of misunderstandings. This study compares the results of two web-based tasks carried out in 2009 and 2011. Native speakers of different languages listened to 48 stimulus sentences, which were prepared based on eight pairs of segmentals that Japanese learners often have problems with. They were asked to indicate what they actually heard in the intelligibility task, and what they thought the speaker meant in the understandability task. As a result, responses from 631 participants showed the effects of context on intelligibility and understandability. It was also suggested that the effects vary among the participant groups with different native languages. The findings are discussed in relation to English education in Japanese classrooms.
英語発音の問題点として、日本語とは異なった音が英語に存在するということを気にする学習者は多い。しかし、分節音の誤りは発話内の文脈によって補われるため、誤解のリスクは軽減すると考えられる。本研究では、2009年と2011年に実施されたオンライン調査の結果を比較する。学習者が苦手とする8ペアの分節音を元に作成された48の刺激文を提示し、母語の異なる聞き手が、実際に聞こえた語 (intelligibility)と話者が言おうとしたと思われる語(understandability)を回答した。631人の回答を分析した結果、文脈が発音の誤りのintelligibilityとunderstandabilityに影響を及ぼすこと、影響の度合いは母語が異なる回答者群間で異なることが示された。これらの結果を元に、日本での英語教育における発音指導について考察する。