Author(s): murray j munro, tracey m denwig
This study tested the hypothesis that accented speech heard at a reduced rate would sound less accented and more comprehensible than speech produced at a normal rate. In 2 experiments, English native-speaker listeners rated a passage read by 10 high-proficiency Mandarin learners of English. In the first experiment, 20 listeners evaluated passages read slowly as more accented and less comprehensible than normal-rate passages. In the second experiment, in which a computer modified speaking rates, 20 new listeners preferred some speeded passages, but none of the slowed ones. Overall, the findings suggest that although native listeners may prefer to hear accented speech at slower rates, a general speaking strategy of slowing down may not help second language learners.