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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.

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A lot of people have contributed to this book in one way or another and I would like to express my gratitude to all of them. First and foremost, I thank Edgar W. Schneider, who was my main mentor in the Habilitationsverfahren (postdoctoral qualification) and allowed me a great deal of freedom in pursuing my own research. Without his support, I would not have been able to write this book.

I am also very grateful to Roswitha Fischer and Ralph Witzgall for consenting to serve as additional mentors during the process of my postdoctoral qualification.

My heartfelt thanks go to Christiane M. Bongartz and Jutta Rymarczyk, who found my research interesting enough to accept this monograph for publication in their series Inquiries in Language Learning.

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