Show Less
Restricted access

The Attainment of an English Accent

British and American Features in Advanced German Learners


Alexander Kautzsch

This book investigates inconsistencies in the accent adopted by advanced German learners of English with respect to differences between standard American and British English (rhoticity, t-voicing, the vowels in the lexical sets «bath», «lot» and «thought»). From a theoretical point of view, the volume contributes to understanding the status of L1 transfer in language learners at «ultimate attainment», a stabilized, late stage in language acquisition. Unlike in many studies in second language acquisition, the approach taken here is variationist, taking into account extra- and intra-linguistic factors as potential explanations for variability. The findings suggest that in addition to the target accent the strongest external factor is time spent abroad, while L1 accent and proficiency level seem to have minor impact only.

Show Summary Details
Restricted access

1 Introduction


Part of an announcement of a Second Language Acquisition workshop in 2013 on advanced learners read as follows:

If one considers complete NL [native language] transfer as an option for the initial state, what remains of the NL in a learner whose L2 has stabilized, and has resulted in the endstate of a highly advanced speaker? The ultimate state learner […] may have had years of input and have achieved nativelike abilities in a range of areas, yet persist in nonnativelike behaviors. (Herschensohn & Young-Scholten 2012)

These “nonnativelike behaviors” can, for example, be easily spotted in the pronunciation of German learners of English. The realization of as an alveolar instead of a dental fricative, of as a labiodental fricative instead of a bilabial velar semi-vowel, the devoicing of syllable-final and syllable-initial consonants, or the realization of /r/ as a voiced uvular fricative or trill instead of a post-alveolar approximant are often quoted, stereotypical peculiarities of average German learners of English.

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.