Suprasegmental measures of accentedness
Hansen (2006: 31) states that "there is a scarcity of research on social constraints on the development of an L2 phonology even though most researchers acknowledge the importance of social context in language learning." We argue that this is particularly the case with regard to the suprasegmental measures of speech. Despite increased interest in the role of prosody in everyday interaction and recognition of its importance in establishing cooperative and successful communication, work in prosodic variation in L2 speech in relation to social factors continues to trail behind other aspects of phonological development research. This chapter begins with an examination of some of the historical reasons for this research gap. The next sections involve a close look at the current view of accentedness in relation to comprehensibility before describing in detail the suprasegmental measures that have contributed to perceptions of L2 accentedness. We then focus on the role of social factors with regard to L2 production of suprasegmentals specifically. In the final section, we consider future directions for this area of research and teaching in the field of L2 pronunciation.
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