Production of English interdental fricatives by Dutch, German, and English speakers

Hanulikova, A., & Weber, A. (2010). Production of English interdental fricatives by Dutch, German, and English speakers. In K. Dziubalska-Kołaczyk, M. Wrembel, & M. Kul (Eds.), Proceedings of the 6th International Symposium on the Acquisition of Second Language Speech, New Sounds 2010, Poznań, Poland, 1-3 May 2010 (pp. 173-178). Poznan: Adam Mickiewicz University.
Non-native (L2) speakers of English often experience difficulties in producing English interdental fricatives (e.g. the voiceless [θ]), and this leads to frequent substitutions of these fricatives (e.g. with [t], [s], and [f]). Differences in the choice of [θ]-substitutions across L2 speakers with different native (L1) language backgrounds have been extensively explored. However, even within one foreign accent, more than one substitution choice occurs, but this has been less systematically studied. Furthermore, little is known about whether the substitutions of voiceless [θ] are phonetically clear instances of [t], [s], and [f], as they are often labelled. In this study, we attempted a phonetic approach to examine language-specific preferences for [θ]-substitutions by carrying out acoustic measurements of L1 and L2 realizations of these sounds. To this end, we collected a corpus of spoken English with L1 speakers (UK-English), and Dutch and German L2 speakers. We show a) that the distribution of differential substitutions using identical materials differs between Dutch and German L2 speakers, b) that [t,s,f]-substitutes differ acoustically from intended [t,s,f], and c) that L2 productions of [θ] are acoustically comparable to L1 productions.
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