Faculty Publications


Error Gravity in a Nonnative English Speaker's Speech: The Case of Article Errors and Pluralizing Non-Count Nouns

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An empirical study was conducted to investigate the effect of article errors and pluralizing non-count nouns on the listeners’ comprehension and perceptions of nonnative English speakers’ speech by comparing the listeners’ responses in two different conditions: first, when the nonnative speech is grammatically accurate but marked for a noticeable foreign accent; second, when the nonnative speech displays both a noticeable foreign accent and common nonnative speakers’ grammatical errors in article usage and pluralizing non-count nouns such as “advice” and “information.” The study analyzed the comprehension and perceptions of 104 U.S. college students, who listened to Korean, Russian, and Chinese speakers and answered questions that measured their comprehension and perceptions. The results showed that there were no statistically significant differences in the adjusted means between error groups and no error groups in comprehension and any of the perception items. Additionally, there were no statistically significant interactions between language groups and error groups in comprehension and perception items. This study has also confirmed the well-established notion that listeners tend to respond to the pronunciation. However, the strength of a speaker’s accent affected only certain aspects of how the listeners perceived them, but not enough to make a difference in comprehension.

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Journal of English as an International Language





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