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Do Malay and Swedish speakers of English understand each other well? Cross-linguistic comparison for using English as an international language (EIL) [i] Malaysia is a multilingual country where other languages beside Malay, the official language, are spoken. In our study we focus on Malaysian English users whose first language is Malay.
Language & Literacy Education Department, Faculty of Education, University Malaya, Malaysia.
Dalarna University, School of Humanities and Media Studies, Swedish as Second Language. (Språkdidaktik)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7966-320X
2016 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In using English as an international language (EIL), one important issue is the mutual intelligibility of the pronunciations of EIL speakers from different language backgrounds. The present study examines the cross-linguistic intelligibility of Malay English and Swedish English. We prepared 15 English statements (evidently true or false if understood), and examined how well 30 Swedish and 38 Malay listeners understand the statements spoken by a speaker from the other language group by comparing the number of correct answers and processing time. We also analyzed the listeners’ own accounts of their struggles in understanding the speakers’ pronunciations. Results show that Swedish listeners struggled significantly more to understand the Malaysian speaker compared to Malaysians listening to the Swedish speaker. This seems to be because the Malaysian speaker did not clearly realize certain phonetic features, such as word stress pattern, consonant cluster and long vowel. Based on the findings, we discuss the core features of EIL pronunciation for intelligibility, and suggest further attestation and investigation on the concerned matter.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
English as an international language (EIL), the intelligibility of L2 pronunciation, Lingua Franca core features, Malay English, Swedish English
National Category
Specific Languages
Research subject
Education and Learning
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-23794OAI: oai:DiVA.org:du-23794DiVA: diva2:1060826
Fourth International Conference on Linguistics, Literature and Culture. Penang, Malaysia. 28-29 September 2016
Available from: 2016-12-30 Created: 2016-12-30 Last updated: 2017-01-01Bibliographically approved

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