Exploring Phonetic and Phonological Variation: RP and the Nigerian English Accent
Although various studies into the intelligibility of speech have been conducted, limitations may be observed in terms of their basic paradigm. Many have focused on the measurement of the intelligibility of non-native English varieties to native speakers, being based on the premise that native speaker speech is inherently intelligible. In contrast, an attempt has been made here to assess the intelligibility of a native speaker accent (RP) from a non-native (Nigerian English) perspective. Involving British and Nigerian undergraduates selected from a British university and a Nigerian university, a hierarchy of the intelligibility of RP vowel phonemes is established. This not only provides evidence that intelligibility is a phenomenon which may be examined from a non-native speaker perspective, it also identifies specific features of RP segmental phonology which presents problems to Nigerians.
Keywords: RP vowels, intelligibility, non-native speakers