At the University of Canterbury, Ksenia Gnevsheva (right) is looking at whether the accents of non-native English speakers change depending on the situation and what they are talking about. Variations in a person’s accent can be measured by mapping where the tongue is placed in the mouth, when certain words are said.
Participants in the trial were either native Korean or German speakers, and were recorded speaking English in various settings, such as going about a routine service activity, or speaking with friends. They were also interviewed about their families and their University studies.
Ksenia explains to Ruth Beran that while there were variations in the accents studied, the results depended on whether the participants were male or female, and which language group they belonged to. The next phase of the research is to play clips of the recorded audio to listeners to see if they can determine differences in the accents.