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  1. #1
    anupumh's Avatar
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    Post Native Speakers: What is most noticable?

    Hi,

    I have a question for all native speakers of English.

    While speaking to a non native speaker of english, which errors are most noticable and would affect understanding/comprehensibility of the speaker?

    Missing an article i.e. a, an ,the (the speaker misses placing an article before the noun)

    Incorrect usage of preposition (using incorrect preposition or adding a preposition where it is not necessary, ex "You should contact to the officer")

    Subject and Verb Agreement Errors (Ram eat food, Ram and John eats food.)

    Problems with Tense (shifting from one tense to another within a statement, incorrect usage of verb tense)

    Problems with Syntax or Sentence Structure

    Differences in Usage (The statement might be grammatically correct but is not used by native speakers, ex. I will go to work next to next day instead of I will go to work the day after next)

    Fillers and Foghorns (Usage of unnecessary words and pauses)

    Please arrange all of these in an order, starting with the ones whom you think are most important and significant followed by the ones which are less important and significant.

    Note: If you think I have missed out on something which impacts comprehensibility of a non native speaker, please feel free to add and point out.

    If possible please provide reasons as to why you think so.

    Thanks a ton

  2. #2
    Lady Hawk is offline Member
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    Default Re: Native Speakers: What is most noticable?

    When I come in contact with a non-native English teacher, the most noticeable thing is probably syntax, or improper sentence order. After that, it probably is the areas of pronunciation that conflict with the native tongue. As for the other aspects, I don't think people are consciously thinking about those areas. We're engaged more with the message being communicated over the particulars of the language, and are not concerned with these minor details.

  3. #3
    anupumh's Avatar
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    Unhappy Re: Native Speakers: What is most noticable?

    Hey,

    I would urge the native speakers, both from UK and US to spare a few minutes and post their comments on what they think about the questions I have posed.

    I will be indepted.

  4. #4
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Native Speakers: What is most noticable?

    Quote Originally Posted by anupumh View Post
    Differences in Usage
    Semantic errors are always the most problematic for conversation. There must be mutual understanding about what most words mean.
    Problems with Tense
    Problems with Syntax or Sentence Structure
    This depends on the actual context.
    "Yesterday, I go to market." is no problem at all.
    "My father very sick" is a problem if you are a doctor, and you need to know whether he is very sick now, or whether this applies to last year.
    Same with word order. Some errors would go almost unnoticed. Some sentences would be almost incomprehensible if given in the speakers native word order.

    Incorrect usage of preposition
    This would not normally be a problem.
    "My father is sick at hospital. I go for visit him now" is not a problem.
    "Can you drive me from station at 7 o'clock?" could be a problem if the intended meaning is "Can you drive me to the station (from home) at 7 o'clock?"

    Subject and Verb Agreement Errors
    Usually not a problem.

    Fillers and Foghorns (Usage of unnecessary words and pauses)
    Can be a problem if hearer is trying to work out a meaning for them.
    Missing an article

    There is a difference between what is noticeable, and what affects communication. A foreign accent is immediately noticeable, but may be no problem.
    A semantic error may go unnoticed, but could cause a huge problem simply because of that.

  5. #5
    anupumh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Native Speakers: What is most noticable?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post

    There is a difference between what is noticeable, and what affects communication. A foreign accent is immediately noticeable, but may be no problem.
    A semantic error may go unnoticed, but could cause a huge problem simply because of that.
    Thank you for your elaborate reply.
    Yes, what I wish to know are the things affect communication.

    I am looking forward to more native speakers to share their views on this...

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Native Speakers: What is most noticable?

    In terms of comprehension difficulties, what I notice most is mispronunciation of words (most noticeable when the non-native speaker is trying to articulate a brand name) and improper syllable emphasis.

    For example, I recently rented a car (a Pontiac Vibe) for a week-long road trip. The car came equipped with satellite radio, but on the third day something went wrong with it and I was unable to tune in to any stations. I called the "help" telephone number and I could immediately tell that the person who answered my call was Indian, despite her attempts to sound fluent. As a rule, I have a fairly good ear for accents, but I had to constantly ask this woman to repeat herself because I could not understand large portions of her conversation. For example, she asked me "your vehicle is a Pontiac Vibe, correct?" but it sounded like "your veckle is a POUND-tick Veeb, correct?"

    Regarding the rest of your list, certainly a foreign accent of any sort is the first hint that the person is not a native speaker. But when it comes to understanding what the non-native is trying to say, most native speakers look past the misplaced prepositions and missing articles and concentrate on the overall message. If the individual words are pronounced even similarly to the way we're used to hearing them, we'll understand the gist of the conversation. For example, if a non-native speaker asks a hospital nurse "How my wife?", it is not proper English grammar, but the nurse will understand what he is asking.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Native Speakers: What is most noticable?

    By your description, I can comment, you spoke with somebody from South India (Souther part of India). The pronunciation which you have described is very typical of people who hail from that place with a strong mother tongue influence on their english sounds. They generally would be fluent, however will have a harsh tone and strong MTI.

    Syllable stress which in English contributes to pure vowels (stressed syllables) and schwa (destressed syllables) is not found in any of the Indian Languages, thus Indians find it tough to figure out the stress and have problems with the schwa sound.

    Thanks a ton for your valuabe comments, I would ask more native speakers to post their comments, which helps me to understand your perspective and acoordingly indentify areas of improvement and focus on my students.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Native Speakers: What is most noticable?

    One or any combination of them could potentially affect comprehensibility, which I prefer to call intelligibility - how easily one's speaking or writing is understood. It depends on the speaker and the way that two or more of these error types can combine and interact to make it more difficult for a native speaker to understand.


  9. #9
    anupumh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Native Speakers: What is most noticable?

    Quote Originally Posted by PROESL View Post
    One or any combination of them could potentially affect comprehensibility, which I prefer to call intelligibility - how easily one's speaking or writing is understood. It depends on the speaker and the way that two or more of these error types can combine and interact to make it more difficult for a native speaker to understand.

    If one needs to conduct a fast track training for non native speakers who intend to converse with Americans. Which above mentioned parameters/components will be important and should be included to improve intelligibility?

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Native Speakers: What is most noticable?

    It depends entirely on the LD (langue de départ or departure language). East Asian language speakers make similar morphological errors -- lack of tense, number-- and similar phonological ones -- lack of final consonants, or unvoicing them when they are there; Indian English speakers understand our tenses and moods, but prepositions, articles and non-English phonology make it hard for them. Europeans simply replace phonemes with familiar ones, and allow the grammar of their articles and verbal moods to invade their English.

    Generally, the biggest problems I see are with final consonants, particularly final S (plurals and 3rd person verbs) as well as incorrect use of the past tense, lack of past tense, and incorrect articles. You could write books on this.

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