Perception of English /l/ and /r/ by Japanese listeners – the influence of living abroad.

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för språk och litteraturer

Author: Axel Hooper; [2019-03-05]

Keywords: japanska; perception; phoneme; allophone; Speech Learning Model;

Abstract: This thesis explores the topic of perception of /l/ and /r/ phonemes in Japanese speakers, primarily divided into two groups: Speakers who have lived in Sweden for 3 or more years and speak conversational Swedish, and average Japanese speakers, in an attempt to observe the effects learning Swedish has on one’s English. A hypothesis dubbed the Speech Learning Model (SLM) as well as my own hypotheses were used as a base for comparison. I primarily predicted an improved perception of /l/ relative to /r/ among the former group, as well as better overall perception. A form was created and distributed, using 15 minimal pairs to test perception among the aforementioned groups. Results showed consistently better overall perception among those proficient in Swedish compared to other Japanese speakers, though neither phoneme appeared to be significantly easier to perceive among either group, despite the similarity of /l/ and dissimilarity of /r/ phonemes between English and Swedish.

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