ASA 125th Meeting Ottawa 1993 May

2aSP14. The relation between age of L2 learning (AOL) and degree of perceived global foreign accent.

James E. Flege

Murray J. Munro

Dept of Biocommun., VH 503, Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294

Ian R. A. MacKay

Univ. of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5, Canada

Degree of accent was assessed in five English sentences spoken by 243 Italians who immigrated to Canada between the ages of two and 22 years (an average of 12 Ss in each of 21 AOL subgroups). The Ss' average age was 44 years (range: 25--56); their average length of residence in Canada was 31 years (range: 14--44). All Ss responded to a language-background questionnaire (LBQ) that provided information regarding age or arrival and length of residence in Canada, frequency of L1 and L2 use, self-estimated L1 and L2 pronunciation and comprehension abilities, strength of concern for pronunciation, imitation/musical ability, and motivation to learn English. The sentences were rated for degree of accent using our standard technique by ten native English Canadians. The results are presented of a multiple regression analyses relating the various LBQ variables to the foreign accent scores, and report on tests of two hypotheses: (1) foreign accents first emerge at an AOL of about 7 years; and (2) intra-subject and inter-subject variability in L2 pronunciation accuracy increases systematically as a function of AOL beyond the age at which foreign accents first emerge. [Work supported by NIH.]