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Open access

Radek Skarnitzl and Pavel Šturm

Abstract

Czech and English are languages which differ with respect to the implementation of voicing. Unlike in English, there is a considerable agreement between phonological (systemic) and phonetic (actual) voicing in Czech, and, more importantly, the two languages have different strategies for the assimilation of voicing across the word boundary. The present study investigates the voicing in word-final obstruents in Czech speakers of English with the specific aim of ascertaining whether the degree of the speakers’ foreign accent correlates with the way they treat English obstruents in assimilatory contexts. L2 speakers, divided into three groups of varying accentedness, were examined employing categorization and a voicing profile method for establishing the presence/absence of voicing. The results suggest that speakers with a different degree of Czech accent do differ in their realization of voicing in the way predicted by a negative transfer of assimilatory habits from Czech.

Open access

Radek Skarnitzl and Pavel Šturm

Abstract

This study focuses on the production and perception of English words with a fortis vs. lenis obstruent in the syllable coda. The contrast is mostly cued by the duration of the preceding vowel, which is shorter before fortis than before lenis sounds in native speech. In the first experiment we analyzed the production of 10 Czech speakers of English and compared them to two native controls. The results showed that the Czech speakers did not sufficiently exploit duration to cue the identity of the word-final obstruent. In the second experiment we manipulated C and V durations in target words to transplant the native ratios onto the Czech-accented speech, enhancing the fortis-lenis contrast, and vice versa. 108 listeners took part in a word-monitoring task in which reaction times were measured. The hypothesized advantage to items in which the target word (with a fortis or lenis obstruent) was semantically congruent with the following context was not confirmed, and subsequent analyses showed that the words’ frequency of use and the collocations they enter into strongly affect speech processing and correlate to a large degree with the reaction times.

Open access

Jan Jakšič and Pavel Šturm

Abstract

The study investigates the attitudes of 254 Czech students towards English as the main language taught at secondary schools. The questionnaire enquired about their perspectives on learning English in general, British and American cultures and accents of English. Such preferences may have implications for pronunciation model selection in TEFL. In addition, the participants evaluated 12 words pronounced in British or American English for pleasantness, and also assigned them to one of the varieties. Despite the predominance of American culture and despite equal distribution of cultural preferences and equal aesthetic evaluation of the accents, the British variety was marked as more prestigious and was also identified more successfully. Interestingly, the findings differed between students from the capital city and those from regional schools.