The Importance of Aspirated Initial Stops in English as a Lingua Franca

  • Mara Haslam (Stockholm University)
  • Elisabeth Zetterholm (Stockholm University)


A significant proportion of the population of the world is made up of users of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF). Jenkins (2000) published the Lingua Franca Core (LFC), a syllabus for ELF pronunciation, including the claim that the fortis/lenis distinction must be preserved on English stop consonants for successful ELF intelligibility. The present study evaluates the relationship between Voice Onset Time (VOT) and how the sounds are perceived by ELF listeners. 101 tokens produced during ELF interaction which contained the stops /b/, /p/, /d/, /t/, /g/, or /k/ were played for 9 Swedish listeners, who could indicate that they heard either the word or its minimal-pair counterpart, e.g. bees or peas. The relationship between VOT and perceived stop was analyzed, with the expectation that longer VOTs would be associated with fortis consonants and shorter VOTs would be associated with lenis consonants. Results followed the predicted pattern for /d/ and /g/ but not for /t/ and /k/. In addition, the pattern observed for /p/ and /b/ is the reverse of the pattern found for the other consonants. These results suggest that further research into the LFC’s claim about the fortis/lenis distinction and other LFC claims are warranted.

How to Cite:

Haslam, M. & Zetterholm, E., (2015) “The Importance of Aspirated Initial Stops in English as a Lingua Franca”, Pronunciation in Second Language Learning and Teaching Proceedings 7(1).

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Published on
01 Jan 2016