Accent is known to cause comprehension difficulty, but empirical interpreting studies on its specific impact have been sporadic. According to Mazzetti (1999), an accent is composed of deviated phonemics and prosody, both discussed extensively in the TESL discipline. The current study seeks to examine, in the interpreting setting, the applicability of Anderson-Hsieh, Johnson and Koehler's (1992) finding that deviated prosody hinders comprehension more than problematic phonemics and syllable structure do. Thirty-seven graduate-level interpreting majors, assigned randomly to four groups, rendered four versions of a text read by the same speaker and then filled out a questionnaire while playing back their own renditions. Renditions were later rated for accuracy by two freelance interpreters, whereas the questionnaires analysed qualitatively. Results of analyses indicated that 1) both phonemics and prosody deteriorated comprehension, but prosody had a greater impact; 2) deviated North American English post-vowel/r/, intonation and rhythm were comprehension problem triggers. The finding may be of use to interpreting trainers, trainees and professionals by contributing to their knowledge of accent.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Language and Linguistics
- Linguistics and Language
- Literature and Literary Theory