Pronunciation Characteristics of Japanese Speakers’ English: A Preliminary Corpus-Based Study

  • Takehiko Makino (Chuo University)


The development of the English Read by Japanese (ERJ) Phonetic Corpus consists of computer-readable narrow phonetic transcriptions and their corresponding target phonemes of selected 800 utterances from ERJ speech database. In describing the pronunciation characteristics of English spoken by Japanese speakers (or speaker of any language), we have been relying on the “rules of thumb” based on informal observations or theoretical predictions from the L1-L2 phonological differences, such as L/R confusion or conflation of English vowels into a five-vowel system in the case of Japanese speakers. While such rules of thumb have had roles to play, corpus-based studies of other areas of linguistic research have proved that they cannot give us the total picture of what are being studied, and L2 pronunciation should not be an exception. Indeed, a preliminary survey of the ERJ Phonetic Corpus has revealed some rather unexpected findings. The most notable of such findings is the spirantization (fricative realization) of voiceless plosives. Such a process is not part of standard Japanese phonology and cannot be the case of a negative L2 transfer. We can expect that the Corpus will help make a more systematic description of Japanese speakers’ pronunciation of English.

How to Cite:

Makino, T., (2013) “Pronunciation Characteristics of Japanese Speakers’ English: A Preliminary Corpus-Based Study”, Pronunciation in Second Language Learning and Teaching Proceedings 5(1).

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Published on
01 Jan 2014