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    #1

    Why?

    The fact is that I understand non-native english speakers better than native ones, especially if non-native english speakers are German and native speakers are New Zealand. Can someone explain it for me? (my English is no so good)

  1. banderas's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Why?

    You are used to German accent and it is easier for you to follow someone speaking English with German accent.

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by hanky View Post
    The fact is that I understand non-native english speakers better than native ones, especially if non-native english speakers are German and native speakers are New Zealand. Can someone explain it for me? (my English is no so good)
    If you are saying that you understand English better if it spoken by Germans than by New Zealanders, this is not strange. German is close to English, and Germans who learn English pronounce vowels correctly. They have trouble with some consonants such as "th". New Zealanders, however, use differernt vowel sounds (more or less) from Standard English.
    For those who know the vowel table, there has been a chain shift of the anterior vowels /ɪ/ /e/ //, becoming more closed.

    /ɪ/ > /ə/. Since /ɪ/ is the closest vowel it has centralised.
    /e/ > /ɪ/. /e/ has moved up to take the place of /ɪ/.
    // to /e/. Similarly, // has move up to take the place of /e/.


    So a transcription of "Sit the keg out the back" might be:
    /sət the kig out the bek/


    By extension of this principle, a non-native person who learns good Standard English pronunciation is often more understandable than a native speaker whose accent is regional.

  3. banderas's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post

    By extension of this principle, a non-native person who learns good Standard English pronunciation is often more understandable than a native speaker whose accent is regional.
    What's more, when a non native English speaker doesn't understand an English native speaker, the first one usually blames himself on lacking the fluency in English. The truth is that some native speakers speak so fast and so...negilgently (is it the right word?) that even native speakers have difficulty understanding them. I know it form my experience as recently I started getting some telephone interviews and, to be honest, I sometimes struggle to get what they say not because I am Polish but my English is just an average but beacuse of the way some Englishmen speak. I obviously do not say "sorry, can you slow down and repeat what you said, as they would think that the level of my English is what makes the communication so difficult. In my country, however, if I do not get the message beacuse someone is not capable of speaking properly, I ask them to repeat.
    Do you think I should do the same in the UK as a non native speaker?

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    #5

    Re: Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by banderas View Post
    What's more, when a non native English speaker doesn't understand an English native speaker, the first one usually blames himself on lacking the fluency in English. The truth is that some native speakers speak so fast and so...negilgently Sloppily, I would say
    (is it the right word?) that even native speakers have difficulty understanding them. I know it form my experience as recently I started getting some telephone interviews and, to be honest, I sometimes struggle to get what they say not because I am Polish but my English is just an average but beacuse of the way some Englishmen speak. I obviously do not say "sorry, can you slow down and repeat what you said, as they would think that the level of my English is what makes the communication so difficult. In my country, however, if I do not get the message beacuse someone is not capable of speaking properly, I ask them to repeat.
    Do you think I should do the same in the UK as a non native speaker?
    Yes, you should. Some native speakers (and I'm sure this is not just English speakers) have terrible articulation; they mumble, they don't open their mouths to speak etc. They seem to feel that as long as they understand what they are saying, other people should too. I've noticed this more as my hearing has deteriorated slightly as I get older. If I don't understand something, I explain the difficulty and ask that they speak more clearly.
    About half the time they seem able to.
    I don't think you should worry about who they "blame". It is usually far easier for a speaker in a discourse to modify their speech than it is for the hearer to modify their perception.

  5. banderas's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Yes, you should. Some native speakers (and I'm sure this is not just English speakers) have terrible articulation; they mumble, they don't open their mouths to speak etc. They seem to feel that as long as they understand what they are saying, other people should too. I've noticed this more as my hearing has deteriorated slightly as I get older. If I don't understand something, I explain the difficulty and ask that they speak more clearly.
    About half the time they seem able to.
    I don't think you should worry about who they "blame". It is usually far easier for a speaker in a discourse to modify their speech than it is for the hearer to modify their perception.
    Thanks for encouraging me, Ray. You are right I should ask them to speak more clearly but during an interview one wants to make the best possible impression and I am afraid of asking native speakers to speak properly beacuse they might think my English sucks although I know it doesn't at all...Well...

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    #7

    Re: Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    If you are saying that you understand English better if it spoken by Germans than by New Zealanders,
    Yes, It is exactly what I meant.
    this is not strange. German is close to English, and Germans who learn English pronounce vowels correctly.
    They have trouble with some consonants such as "th". New Zealanders, however, use differernt vowel sounds (more or less) from Standard English.
    For those who know the vowel table, there has been a chain shift of the anterior vowels /ɪ/ /e/ //, becoming more closed.

    /ɪ/ > /ə/. Since /ɪ/ is the closest vowel it has centralised.
    /e/ > /ɪ/. /e/ has moved up to take the place of /ɪ/.
    // to /e/. Similarly, // has move up to take the place of /e/.


    So a transcription of "Sit the keg out the back" might be:
    /sət the kig out the bek/
    By extension of this principle, a non-native person who learns good Standard English pronunciation is often more understandable than a native speaker whose accent is regional.
    Now I understand better why I have some trouble of hearing New Zealanders. BWT German people speak English very well, don't they?

  6. banderas's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by hanky View Post
    Now I understand better why I have some trouble of hearing New Zealanders. BWT German people speak English very well, don't they?
    They do, I mean the young generation.

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    #9

    Re: Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    New Zealanders, however, use different vowel sounds (more or less) from Standard English.
    Sorry, but I can't let this pass unremarked upon. Define 'Standard English", please. NZ English has different vowel sounds from British English, as does Australian English, US English, Indian English, South African English and Canadian English. What is this mythical beast of which you speak, "Standard English"?

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    #10

    Re: Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by stuartnz View Post
    Sorry, but I can't let this pass unremarked upon. Define 'Standard English", please. NZ English has different vowel sounds from British English, as does Australian English, US English, Indian English, South African English and Canadian English. What is this mythical beast of which you speak, "Standard English"?
    Well, Stuart, I don't want to get into an argument with you, but I guess by Standard English (in the context of the pronunciation of the anterior vowel sounds), I means Englishes which haven't evolved the vowel shifts that are typical of NZE - that is, any English in which "cat" is pronounced roughly /kaet/ not /ket/, "bed" is /bed/ not /bId/, and "bid" is /bId/ not /bəd/.

    I agree that Standard English is somewhat mythical, but I think it's what most of us try to teach here - even though it doesn't exist. It's an abstraction idealised for learning purposes. It specifically excludes regional pronunciations which are not widespread. I would not claim that broad AusE is SE, but general and cultivated AusE would pass. Perhaps cultivated Kiwi passes too.

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