ASA 130th Meeting - St. Louis, MO - 1995 Nov 27 .. Dec 01

2aSC17. English vowels for Chinese speakers enrolled in English as a second language classes.

Therese I. Huber

Hong Wei Dou

Ernest M. Weiler

Joseph G. Agnello

Ml #379, Speech Sci. Lab., Communication Sci., Univ. of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221

Chinese and English differ considerably in the characteristics of the vowels. The present study focuses on acoustic characteristics of Chinese production of English vowels. The seven Chinese students in the present study had all been born in mainland China, and were students at the University of Cincinnati. All were enrolled in ESL (English as a second language) classes because of difficulties with English pronunciation. Two native English speakers were used to provide a comparative analysis, by minimal pairs, for formant placement of the vowels /i/, /I/, and others. A total of five English speakers phonetically transcribed the productions and tallied the data into a confusion matrix. The acoustic analysis, performed separately by five speech science students revealed systematic differences in the production of the vowels associated with the confusion. The Chinese first formant was lower and the second was higher than found for the midwestern English speakers. Insufficient reduction in frequency between minimal pairs was the source of auditory confusion. The application to ESL speech therapy will be discussed.