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Vol.37 No.4 Winter 2013
Home > Issues > Vol.37 No.4 Winter 2013
Phonological Changes in Code-Mixing and the Effects on Foreign Accents: A Comparative Study
Hsueh Chu Rebecca Chen

The purpose of this study is to draw a link between code-mixing and foreign accents by analyzing the phonological features of English words spoken in code-mixing from Cantonese-English and Taiwan Mandarin-English. Three phases of data collection were conducted. First, speech samples were collected from YouTube. A code-mixing script was prepared from those samples. Twenty university students from Hong Kong and another twenty from Taiwan were then invited to read the prepared code-mixing script. Their pronunciation of certain keywords was phonologically analyzed in detail. A supplementary acoustic analysis was conducted to further exemplify the effects of code-mixing on English pronunciation. A questionnaire survey was administered to probe participants’ opinions about codemixing and foreign accents. Results showed that both groups tended to produce final consonant deletion, consonant cluster simplification, and /l/ and /n/ conflation. There was no distinction between short and long vowels; a stress pattern was absent and a vowel insertion strategy was used to form re-syllabification. Cantonese students tended to produce final plosives unreleased. The intonation unexpectedly rose at the word’s final position. They devoiced alveolar fricatives and a lateral /l/ was realized as a back vowel / / plus velar glide /w/ in syllable codas, all of which was revealed through acoustic analysis. The survey results found that both groups agreed that the higher their English language proficiency, the more they used code-mixing. They were of opinion that utilizing codemixing during class helped them better understand class content.

Key Words: second language phonology, multilingual society, code-mixing

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