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World Englishes, Vol. 25, No. 3/4, pp. 391409, 2006.

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Emerging South-East Asian Englishes and intelligibility


DAVID DETERDING and ANDY KIRKPATRICK
ABSTRACT: An English lingua franca seems to be emerging in the ten ASEAN countries, and this paper investigates features of the pronunciation of this lingua franca. Twenty speakers, two from each of the ASEAN countries, were recorded while they were conversing in groups of three or four people, all from a different country. The speech that they used is analysed to identify shared features of pronunciation, especially to evaluate the effect that these features have on intelligibility, and it is argued that some of their shared non-standard features actually enhance intelligibility. Finally, some of the misunderstandings that occurred are analysed to determine the extent to which pronunciation played a part, and it is found that only those features of pronunciation not shared by speakers from other ASEAN countries resulted in a break-down in communication.

INTRODUCTION

There are nowadays rather more non-native than native speakers of English using the language on a regular basis. Crystal (2003: 65) estimates about 430 million L2 users and about 330 million L1 users. In fact, these figures exclude learners of English, and Crystal suggests there may be as many as one billion of them. As English becomes increasingly important as a means of international communication between people of disparate backgrounds, new English lingua francas are emerging, incorporating just those features of English that are necessary for effective communication and also developing new modes of interaction without being too concerned about the language patterns of native speakers in places such as Britain and America. Jenkins (2000) has investigated communication between people from widely different backgrounds, such as Japanese and Swiss-Germans, to find out which parts of the phonology of English are crucial for intelligible pronunciation in international communication, and she proposes a Lingua Franca Core (LFC) of the essential pronunciation features which, she suggests, teachers should focus on. However, Seidlhofer (2001) observes that extensive collection of data in order to understand the nature of an English lingua franca is only just starting, in contrast with the wealth of material now available from corpora of native speech, and she is trying to rectify this by collecting the Vienna-Oxford ELF corpus. It is likely that, rather than some kind of global English lingua franca, a number of distinct regional varieties are emerging. For example, Gramley and P atzold (2004: 316) observe that African Vernacular English, an English lingua franca found across the African continent, sounds quite different from Asian varieties of English, and James (2000) reports

National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, 1 Nanyang Walk, Singapore 637616. E-mail: david.deterding@nie.edu.sg Department of English, Hong Kong Institute of Education, 10 Lo Ping Road, Tai Po, Hong Kong. E-mail: akirkpat@ied.edu.hk
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on a project to collect data on English as a lingua franca in the Alpine-Adriatic region of Europe by speakers from Slovenia, Italy and Austria. In this paper we will discuss some of the pronunciation features of an English lingua franca that is emerging in the ten countries belonging to the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), where English has become the de facto language of official interaction even though no formal decision has ever been made over the issue (Okudaira, 1999). In four of the ASEAN countries (Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore), use of English is widespread and the language has an official or semi-official status, so in terms of the three-circle classification (Kachru, 1985), these four might be regarded as outer-circle countries. In the other six countries (Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam), English has less of an official status, so these countries belong more in the expanding circle. Our data here consists of semi-informal conversational data, and we will consider in particular the intelligibility of the speech that characterizes the emergent ASEAN English Lingua Franca. Our analysis of the conversations between speakers from different ASEAN countries will focus on those non-standard pronunciation features that are shared by people from a range of countries, and we will attempt to assess the role of each feature in maintaining intelligibility. Then we will consider some of the instances of miscommunication found in the data, and we will discuss what might have caused the problems, in particular trying to determine the extent to which features of pronunciation may have contributed to the instances of break-down in understanding.

INTELLIGIBILITY

The concept of intelligibility is somewhat elusive. Smith and Nelson (1985) and Smith (1992) have identified three basic levels: word recognition, utterance comprehension, and understanding the meaning behind the utterance. In this paper, we will be considering conversational data in which the speakers are aiming to communicate effectively between themselves rather than demonstrate a detailed understanding of everything that is said, so recognition of every single word is of course not important. In fact, in the context of the interactions we will be investigating, the comprehension of whole utterances sometimes may not matter so long as the subjects can achieve a basic understanding of what is going on. At times all of us take part in a conversation without worrying too much about the meaning of every single utterance so long as we can maintain a grasp of the overall gist, for example in a noisy environment such as a cocktail party. And Firth (1996) has suggested that this kind of listening, of letting something pass in the hope that things will become clearer as the interaction progresses, may be especially common with non-native users of English. Indeed, there are almost certainly many instances in our data where one or more listeners do not fully comprehend what is being said, but this does not interfere with the successful continuation of the conversation. Therefore, when we discuss issues of intelligibility in this paper, we cannot be absolutely certain how intelligible the participants really found the contributions of the others. However, what we can observe is that the conversations progressed exceptionally smoothly with very few instances of a break-down in communication, and from this we surmise that most of the speech was found to be highly intelligible by the other participants.
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DATA

Twenty English language teachers, two from each of the ten ASEAN countries, were recorded in six separate groups of three or four speakers while they were attending a course at the SEAMEO Regional Language Centre (RELC) in Singapore. In each group, all the speakers were from different countries. The first three recordings (Groups 1 to 3) were made in February 2004, and the other three (Groups 4 to 6) were made in January 2005. The groups were as follows:
Group 1: FBrun (female from Brunei; ethnically Chinese) FViet (female from Vietnam) FPhil (female from Philippines) MThai (male from Thailand) Group 2: FSing (female from Singapore, ethnically Indian) FLao (female from Lao) FMyan (female from Myanmar) Group 3: MIndon (male from Java, Indonesia) MCamb (male from Cambodia) FSing (female from Singapore, ethnically Malay) Group 4: FBrun (female from Brunei, ethnically Malay) FMal (female from Malaysia, ethnically Malay) FThai (female from Thailand) FViet (female from Vietnam) Group 5: FIndon (female from Java, Indonesia) FMyan (female from Myanmar) FCamb (male from Cambodia) Group 6: MMal (male from Malaysia, ethnically Chinese) MLao (male from Laos) FPhil (female from Philippines)

The standard of English of most of the speakers is excellent, though FLao in Group 2 is not as proficient as the others. Of the twenty speakers, only she might be regarded as being a learner of English rather a proficient user, though of course the distinction between learners and proficient second language users is not straightforward (Kirkpatrick, 2005). For a few of the others, especially some of those from Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines, English is in fact their first language in the sense that it is the language they reported being most proficient in. Each group talked among themselves for about 20 minutes, discussing their impressions of Singapore as well as various other topics such as experiences of teaching English in their respective countries. Nobody apart from the participants was present in the room during the recordings, as it is especially important that inner-circle speakers do not intrude when this kind of data is collected (Seidlhofer, 2001). For convenience, each recording was segmented into files of 100 seconds each (with a ten second overlap), and these were then labelled a, b, c, etc.
PRONUNCIATION FEATURES

We will first consider some of the non-standard pronunciation features found in the data. The focus will be on features that were found with speakers from at least four different countries, on the grounds that such features probably constitute part of an emergent regional
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English lingua franca. A previous report (Deterding and Kirkpatrick, 2005), based on data from Groups 1 to 3, included a few features that were shared by speakers from just two countries, such as the pronunciation of taught as [t$ t1] by subjects from Vietnam and Indonesia, but we can be less confident that these features really do constitute part of an emerging lingua franca, as it might just be coincidental that these two speakers used the same form. It is important to emphasize that the features we discuss here are ones that are shared by some but not necessarily all of the speakers we are not suggesting that a completely uniform variety of English is emerging in the region. Inevitably, there is considerable variation in the data, so it is not surprising that there are pronunciation features which are found with maybe half of the speakers but not the other half. What we find in our data is that pronunciation features that are widespread generally do not seem to disrupt communication, as there seems to be a tolerance for certain kinds of variation, while other kinds of non-standard features do occasionally cause problems, especially those features that are not shared by speakers from a range of countries. To illustrate a number of pronunciation features before we discuss them individually, let us consider extract 1. (The conventions adopted for the transcription are listed in the Appendix.)
(1) FMal: maybe [me bi] when WE go [go ] back we can [kn] tell our [a*wE] students one (0.4) one thing [tIn] that [d-] can [kn] motivate THEM [Uem] {gp4-k:48-55}

In this extract, there is a plosive rather than a dental fricative at the start of both thing and that as is the tendency for Malaysian English (Baskaran, 2004). But there is no such substitution of the /U/ at the start of them (possibly because this word is stressed), so there is variable realization of dental fricatives even within this short extract. In fact such variation is expected, not just for the pronunciation of dental fricatives in the region (Shanti and Deterding, 2000) but for many other kinds of speech sounds (Labov, 1966). Dental fricatives will be discussed in some detail below. Another notable feature found in extract 1 is the prominence on two of the pronouns, the first instance of we and also the final word, them. But notice again that the second instance of we is not stressed, so it is certainly not true that all pronouns get emphasized. In addition in extract 1, go and the first syllable of maybe are produced with long monophthongs instead of diphthongs, and our has two clear syllables. Finally, that and both instances of can have full vowels, not reduced vowels (schwas), so there is no evidence of weak forms for these two function words. All these issues will be discussed in more detail below. Although all these features might be regarded as non-standard, this utterance is articulated quite clearly and there appears to be no problem with the others in the group fully understanding it. Indeed, it seems unlikely that anyone from the region with a reasonable knowledge of English would have any problems with this utterance, and in fact, it might be argued that some of the features, particularly the use of full vowels in function words and the clear bisyllabic pronunciation of our, actually serve to enhance the intelligibility for other listeners in the region. It is simply not true that inner-circle speech is always the most easily understood, something that was demonstrated many years ago by Smith and Rafiqzad (1979) and also by Smith and Bisazza (1982). Only some of the features of pronunciation found in our data will be discussed here. Inevitably, there are many instances of final consonant clusters being simplified (Deterding
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Table 1. Summary of pronunciation features shared by speakers from at least four different countries Feature dental fricative /{/ as [t] reduced initial aspiration monophthongal /eI/ and /E*/ bisyllabic triphthongs lack of reduced vowels stressed pronouns heavy end-stress Example(s) many thing [tIn] they will teach [di t1] another place [ple s]; can go [go ] in our [a*wE] time officially [AfI1Eli]; to [tu ] visit and HE has been in Singapore the incidental WAY

and Kirkpatrick, 2005), but this is an expected feature of pronunciation not just in varieties of English in the ASEAN region (Gut, 2005; Cruz-Ferreira, 2005) but also in most Englishes, including those of Britain (Fabricius, 2002) and New York (Guy, 1980). Here we will focus on some of the features that serve to characterize the emerging ASEAN English lingua franca as distinct from inner-circle varieties. But before we discuss these features in detail, they are summarized in Table 1.
Dental fricatives The dental fricatives /{, U/ are, of course, notoriously difficult for many learners of English, and Jenkins (2000: 137) proposes them as prime candidates for exclusion from her LFC. Indeed, some native speakers also do not use these sounds, as many in London use [f, v] instead (Wells, 1982: 328) while some in Ireland and New York City use [t, d] (or dental stops) (Wells, 1982: 429, 515). When dental fricatives are replaced, a wide range of sounds may occur instead. Not only are [f, v] used by some native speakers and [t, d] by others, but [f, v] are also used by speakers from Hong Kong (Hung, 2000), [t, d] occur throughout ASEAN (as discussed below), and [s, z] may also occur with speakers of English from many different countries including Germany (Swan, 1987) and China (Chang, 1987; Ho, 2003). Our data show that, in syllable-initial position, many ASEAN speakers use [t] in place of /{/, reflecting the well-known pattern found in Singapore (Shanti and Deterding, 2000), Malaysia (Baskaran, 2004), the Philippines (Tayao, 2004a, b) and Vietnam (Honey, 1987). In fact, this usage was found among speakers from seven of the countries.
and I think [tInk] er anyway you all may er join in the . . . celebration {gp2-a:45} new many thing [tIn] from Singapore {gp2-c:51} I dont have to teach theories [tIrIZ] {gp1-d:39} we have er seven thousand [ta*ZEn] by the way we have seven thousand [ta*ZEn] . . . er seven thousand [ta*ZEn] one hundred islands in the Philippines {gp6-i:45} (6) MMal: and English is like a third [t3 d] language, we have they ss have to study three [tri ] languages (2) FSing: (3) FLao: (4) FViet: (5) FPhil: (7) FMyan: er, three [tri ] times {gp2-c:04} (8) FIndon: one plate is three [tri ] dollars {gp3-c:31}
{gp6-d:85}

The frequent use of [t] in place of /{/ seems to be well established in the region, and it does not cause much of a problem for listeners from ASEAN countries.
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We also found some instances where one speaker, FCamb, used [s] in place of /{/, as in extract 9, but this also did not cause a problem for her listeners.
(9) FCamb: we went er to the market and tried to explore something [s8msIn] already and erm we think [sIn] that maybe on the last day {gp5-h:48}

In contrast, recent research (Deterding, 2005b) has shown that use of [f] in place of an initial /{/ does cause widespread misunderstanding for listeners in Singapore, as three [fri ] nights uttered by a speaker of Estuary English was transcribed as free nights or free life by a number of listeners even though this made absolutely no sense in context. Note that it is the inner-circle pattern that causes problems, even though this use of [f] in place of /{/ does not just occur in London but is quite widespread nowadays in many parts of Britain (Kerswill, 2003). However, we might consider a little further the intelligibility of [t] as a replacement for /{/ in parts of Asia outside of ASEAN, as it is possible that this may cause difficulties for listeners from places such as China (Young, 2003) and Japan (Date, 2005). Indeed, Young mentions the frustration of a student from China who had been in Singapore for less than a week and, when asking how to get somewhere, was baffled by the advice to dig tree tree until someone else clarified it as an instruction to take (Bus Number) 33 (though we should note that the problems with this utterance arose not just because three was heard as tree but also because take was heard as dig, so it is not just the substitution of the initial dental fricative that caused the difficulty). Young (2003) further reports that students from China enrolled in an intensive English course in Singapore strongly disagreed with the statement English spoken by Singaporeans is easy to understand in a questionnaire at the start of their course, although this disagreement was somewhat reduced when the questionnaire was administered to the same students five months later. Kirkpatrick and Saunders (2005) also report that, although native Australians can understand Singapore English quite easily, listeners from countries such as China, Japan, Taiwan, Iraq, Norway and Bhutan have more difficulty. So it is possible that, although the use of [t] for /{/ may be fine within the ASEAN region, it may cause some problems for listeners from more distant parts of Asia (though of course further research is needed to determine if this particular feature of pronunciation does indeed cause a problem). Countries such as Singapore and Malaysia are keen to establish themselves as international centres for business, education, research and tourism, so there is a need to ensure that the English that is spoken can be understood not just by people from other ASEAN countries but also by visitors from outside the region, not all of whom can afford to wait several months while they become familiar with the local patterns of pronunciation.
Aspiration on initial plosives The degree of aspiration on voiceless plosives in syllable-initial position varies between languages, with the result that a /t/ in French can sound rather like an English [d] (Watson, 1983). In fact, varieties of English can also have different degrees of aspiration, and in Singapore English /t/ can sometimes sound like [d] to British or American listeners, perhaps as an influence from Malay (Deterding and Poedjosoedarmo, 1998: 157). This feature occurs in our data.
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Emerging Asian Englishes and intelligibility (10) FPhil: this is my second time [daIm] {gp1-a:99} (11) FViet: so they will teach [di t1] {gp1-i:20} (12) FSing: so grammar is taught [d$ t] in a more structured way {gp2-c:86}

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Minimal aspiration is also found for initial /p/, which then sounds a bit like [b], as illustrated by extracts 13 to 15.
(13) FMyan: pardon? [ba dEn] {gp2-f:73} (14) MCamb: I find most car in Singapore . . . pretty [brItI] new {gp3-d:51} (15) FSingM: I do not really have that much patience [beI1Ens] {gp3-f:18}

As with all phonetic features discussed here, there is no suggestion that all initial plosives have reduced aspiration. However, it is a feature that sometimes occurs with a range of speakers from ASEAN countries, and it does not appear to disrupt communication.
Monophthongal / eI/ and /E*/ It is well established that in Singapore /eI/ and /E*/ are often pronounced as long monophthongs that might be represented as [e ] and [o ], and measurements have confirmed that there is little change in vowel quality in these vowels (Deterding, 2000; Lee and Lim, 2000). A similar pure quality is reported for these vowels in Malaysian English (Baskaran, 2004), Vietnamese English (Honey, 1987) and Thai English (Smyth, 1987), while in Philippine English they may both have a very close quality (Tayao, 2004b). A monophthongal production of these vowels was found in many instances in our data.
(16) FPhil: (17) FIndon: (18) FBrun: (19) MThai: (20) FSing: (21) FMyan: you learn the language in a natural way [we ] {gp6-g:11} we can go to another place [ple s] {gp5-i:19} its not the type of food that you usually take [te k] yeah {gp4-c:59} a three-day holiday [hAlIde ] right {gp1-a:39} I better not say [se ] things that I dont [do n] know [no ] {Pgp3-e:01} they [Ue ] can go [go ] to the monastery {gp2-j:27}

Monophthongal pronunciation of the vowels in words such as face and goat is of course not limited to Southeast Asia. It is in fact quite widespread throughout the world, being found in many varieties of English, including those of Wales, Scotland, some parts of America and also many varieties of African English (Wells, 1982: 382, 407, 487, 639). Even though in Singapore the relatively close front vowel of face is found in some unexpected words, such as bed and egg which as a result rhyme respectively with made and vague respectively and not with fed and peg, this does not seem to create a problem for intelligibility but instead constitutes part of the emergent standard pronunciation in the country (Deterding, 2005a). In a similar fashion, the monophthongal realization of the vowels in words such as face and goat contributes to the local flavour of English in many countries in ASEAN, and it would in fact sound rather inappropriate for most speakers in the region to adopt a diphthongal pronunciation for these words. Lee and Lim (2000) report that Singapore listeners did not want to sound like a speaker who had a diphthongal articulation for /eI/ and /E*/, as they judged him to be pretentious and insincere. There seems little reason for teaching materials that are used in the region to encourage the use of diphthongs for these two vowels, especially since their pronunciation as monophthongs is so widespread throughout the world.
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Triphthongs The status of triphthongs such as /aIE/ in fire and /a*E/ in hour is somewhat uncertain in British English (Roach, 2000: 24). Not only is it not clear whether they represent single vowels or sequences of two vowels, but there is also a tendency for smoothing to take place, resulting in the loss of the middle element so that tyre and tower may become homophones, as indeed might shire and shower, with the vowel represented as [aE] (Cruttenden, 2001:139). In fact, Ladefoged (2001: 29) lists /aE/ as one of the basic vowels of British English. In our data, however, /a*E/ is clearly two distinct syllables, so our and hour are both pronounced with a [w] between the syllables, a pattern that has been reported as widely occurring in Singapore English (Lim and Low, 2005).
(22) FMyan: in our [a*wE] time we have to memorize some er most of the vocabulary in our [a*wE] mind {gp2-f:36} (23) MCamb: we have to develop our [a*wE] country with the world {gp3-l:98} (24) FBrun: for our [a*wE] high school we get good results {gp1-g:64} (25) FIndon: an hour [a*wE] in the airport {gp5-m:16} (26) FCamb: two hours [a*wEs] {gp5-l:11}

In terms of intelligibility, it seems likely that [a*wE] is easier to understand than [aE], so it is probable this regional style of pronunciation actually enhances intelligibility. And even listeners more familiar with American pronunciation who would expect an /r/ at the end of these words would almost certainly find [a*wE] easier to understand than [aE]. In connection with the pronunciation of vowels, we might consider for a moment the speech of the person who is surely associated most closely with the Queens English, the Queen herself. It has been reported that she has less range in the open/close dimension for vowels than many other British English speakers (Harrington, Palethorpe and Watson, 2000) and also that she makes such a small contrast between her /aI/ and /a*/ diphthongs that she is sometimes caricatured as pronouncing house as hice (Harrington, Palethorpe and Watson, 2004). It is simply not true that inner-circle pronunciation is always the most straightforward to understand or the most appropriate as a model for learners. And so there seems to be no reason to encourage the British style of pronunciation for some vowels, particularly the triphthongs.
Lack of reduced vowels It has often been noted that Singapore English is characterized by a relative lack of reduced vowels (Low and Brown, 2005: 161), so there tends to be a full vowel rather than a schwa in the first syllable of a word such as continue, though it is certainly not true that a schwa never occurs in Singapore English (Heng and Deterding, 2005). In fact, a schwa usually occurs in unstressed open syllables spelled with an a, such as the first syllable of afford and abroad , but a full vowel is more likely to occur in closed syllables, such as the first syllable of absorb and adventure (Deterding, 2005a) and also in the first syllable of a word such as officially where the vowel is spelt with an o (Heng and Deterding, 2005).
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Use of full vowels in unstressed syllables was found in many instances in our data.
(27) FSing: (28) MIndon: (29) FBrun: (30) FPhil: (31) FMyan: the communicative [kAmju nIkeItIv] approach {gp2-c:77} its officially [AfI1Eli] launched {gp3-n:49} cant compare [kAmpeE] now {gp1-k:34} and from the text we prepare the grammar lessons [lesAnz] {gp1-e:53} from [frAm] there we can [kn] continue [kAntInju ] {gp5-f:02}

Extract 31 shows that this use of a full vowel does not just affect the unstressed syllables of polysyllabic words, but also contributes to the avoidance of weak forms for function words such as from and can. Indeed, the use of a full vowel rather than a schwa in function words is common.
(32) FMyan: (33) FPhil: (34) FIndon: (35) MThai: (36) FCamb: I have get the chance to [tu ] visit a zoo in . . . {gp5-f:35} or to become proficient in the language, you have to [tu ] spend a lot of money {gp6-c:77} er and then I tried to [tu ] look for the officer but {gp5-l:55} when I first came to [tu ] Singapore {gp1-a:31} we think that [dt] maybe on the last day {gp5-h:53}

In fact, the avoidance of reduced vowels is found in many New Varieties of English (NVE), including those of the Caribbean and West Africa (Wells, 1992: 570, 639; Gramley and P atzold, 2004: 270, 319), which raises the interesting question about how many of the features of the emergent ASEAN English Lingua Franca are found in NVEs around the world. The use of full vowels in unstressed syllables has been shown to be a contributing factor to the syllable-based rhythm of Singapore English (Deterding, 2001), and the metric for the measurement of rhythm developed by Low, Grabe and Nolan (2000) depends entirely on a comparison of the duration of neighbouring vowels on the basis that the existence of full or reduced vowels is the crucial determining factor. Indeed, use of syllable-based rhythm characterizes much of our data, though the exact determination of which utterances are syllable-based and which are not is somewhat subjective, especially for those utterances which include pauses. This raises the issue of what effect syllable-based rhythm has on intelligibility. Although some listeners from Britain or America might describe syllable-based rhythm as staccato or even jerky, it is not clear that listeners in the ASEAN region associate it with such negative attributes, and it is likely that many actually find that the clear enunciation of all syllables enhances intelligibility (Kirkpatrick, 2004). Crystal (1995) observes that British English also exhibits this kind of rhythm in a variety of contexts, such as baby-talk, in television commercial slogans, and when showing irritation or sarcasm. Crystal (2003: 172) further notes that some syllable-based speech, such as rap chanting, is becoming a prestigious model for young people, and he raises the question of whether British and American English might one day become syllable-based. Although this seems unlikely in the immediate future, Crystal certainly sees a movement in language teaching away from the fostering of external norms for rhythm in countries where such norms are inappropriate, and Kirkpatrick (2004) argues that the acceptance of syllable-based rhythm in the classroom in ASEAN countries and many other parts of the world can be liberating both for teachers and for learners. The issue of rhythm concerns suprasegmental aspects of speech. We now turn to another suprasegmental issue and consider which words in an utterance are stressed.
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Stressed pronouns Many indigenous languages in Southeast Asia, including Malay and Chinese, are nullsubject, so a subject pronoun can be omitted if it is not important (Li and Thompson, 1976), and this may influence the structure of varieties of English such as that of Singapore (Tan, 2003; Leong, 2003). If a pronoun can easily be omitted, its non-omission usually means it is important, and as a result it is often stressed. The stressing of pronouns and other function words is a well-known phenomenon in Singapore English (Deterding, 1994), and it is also found widely in our data.
(37) MIndon: (38) FMyan: (39) MThai: (40) MCamb: I bought in the Muslim mmm restaurant {gp3-c:14} and HE has been in Singapore er three times {gp2-c:02} when I have to speak {gp1-l:55} when we er conducted lesson or teach them er THEY cannot perform very well {gp3-g:79}

This stressing of pronouns extends to items other than subjects:


(41) FSingM: (42) MMal: (43) FIndon: (44) FBrun: and its difficult for you to actually teach THEM and all that {gp3-e:61} many of the airmen used to live in MY neighbourhood {gp6-g:85} OK, I just er waited for HIM an hour in the airport {gp5-m:13} so I had so m-, I grew up with a lot of languages around ME {gp1-j:85}

We have no evidence that this stressing of pronouns caused any problems for communication in our data.
Heavy end-stress In extract 44, the stressed pronoun occurs at the end of an utterance. It has been shown that there tends to be prominent falling intonation to mark the end of an utterance in Singapore English (Low, 2000), and this pattern exists in our data.
(45) FSingI: er we do not er teach grammar the incidental WAY {gp2-c:61} (46) FLao: ah, yes we can follow the . . . er . . . teaching plan that we HAVE {gp2-e:11} (47) FViet: I I mean this for the er for the sub er for the grammar subject itSELF, its not for interpreter SKILLS {gp1-h:97} (48) FIndon: you know, XXX is still HERE {gp5-h:19}

The use of heavy end-stress sometimes affects words that are repeated, and this tendency to avoid the de-accenting of repeated information has been noted for Singapore English (Deterding, 1994; Goh, 2005; Levis, 2005).
because there are a lot of students who are weak in English and they go to such schools just to learn ENGLISH {gp6-c:59} (50) FBrun: we have the government schools and the private SCHOOLS, but teaching of English begins in kindergarten {gp1-f:84} (51) FMyan: I love teaching and I enjoy TEACHING {gp2-g:97} (52) MThai: it was meant for only a h- a holiday a three-day HOLIDAY {gp1-a:39} (53) MCamb: erm English is very new and very few people speak ENGLISH {gp3-i:31} (49) MMal:

It seems likely that these instances of final heavy emphasis, especially when accompanied by a falling tone, have the important communicative function of marking the end of an utterance (or sometimes the end of a clause within an utterance as with extract 50). This function is rather different from the use of sentence stress in inner-circle varieties of English,
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where it generally indicates new information. In fact, Levis (2005) suggests that such differences in the use of prominence between American English and Singapore English may be characteristic of differences in general between inner-circle and outer-circle Englishes, and Deterding (1994) has argued that it is not possible to use a British model of intonation to represent the patterns found in Singapore English. In terms of intelligibility, although unexpected emphasis and lack of de-accenting might strike listeners from other countries as rather odd, it is not clear that they really cause too many problems for understanding. Date (2005) remarks on unusual stress placement and lack of de-accenting as features of Singapore English, but most of the main features that he lists as contributing to problems with intelligibility for Japanese listeners actually involve vowels and consonants. It seems that none of the shared features of pronunciation that we have discussed contributed to a break-down in communication between our ASEAN speakers. We now consider some of the features that did appear to result in misunderstandings.
MISUNDERSTANDINGS

There are remarkably few disruptions in the smooth progress of the conversations (Kirkpatrick, 2005). Of course, as mentioned above, there are probably quite a few instances where one or more participants do not understand something but decide to let it pass, so we do not get to find out about these. But this is entirely expected, and in such instances, even if there may in fact have been some lack of understanding with one or more interlocutors, we can observe that the conversation progressed successfully. The most common problem is when someone is asked a question but does not understand it for one reason or another. When a question has been asked, an immediate response is expected, so it is not possible to let it pass, and in these cases the misunderstanding does generally become apparent. Apart from misunderstood questions, there are just a few instances where a participant does not understand all or part of a statement and asks for clarification. Here we will consider these two issues in turn, misunderstanding of questions and then statements, to try to evaluate what it is that causes the problem. But first, we summarize in Table 2 the few instances of idiosyncratic pronunciation that seem to cause a problem for intelligibility.
Questions As discussed above, failure to understand a question sometimes necessitates asking for clarification. In extract 54, MThai pauses for 1.3 seconds, but as the others are waiting for him to respond, he has to ask for the question to be repeated. It is hard to be certain what
Table 2. Summary of instances of idiosyncratic pronunciation that caused a problem for understanding Nationality of speaker Myanmar Laos Laos Vietnam Myanmar
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Feature [a ] in place of /# / loss of /r/ in initial cluster [n] in place of final /l/ [1] in place of /s/ insertion of [t]
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causes the problem here. Possibly, the overlapping speech at the beginning of the question meant that he was not paying attention. What does seem likely, however, is that there is nothing in the pronunciation of FBrun that caused a problem.
(54) FBrun: MThai: FBrun: MThai: FBrun: MThai: So, how [how [I I mean do you find the course so far? (1.3) mmm? How did you find this this course that we did [so far? [er actually, it its an its an a very in- intensive course {gp1-b:33-47}

Similarly, in extract 55 there is a longish pause (1.4 seconds) before FMyan asks for the question to be repeated. Once more, it is hard to determine what has caused the problem.
(55) FSing: But how did you manage to cope when you were taught English at the very later stage? (1.4) FMyan: Pardon? FSing: How how are you all able to cope you know when in your during your time, you were taught English only at secondary level? FMyan: Mm hmm mm hmmm, if I have to say [the truth FLao: [(ha ha ha) FSing: hm-mm. FMyan: er (tsk) erm since erm until until I was in the s- er secondary level FSing: hm-mm. FMyan: er I didnt know mmm what grammar i- is about. {gp2-f:71-99}

Although it is true that FSing uses a monophthongal pronunciation for the vowels in cope and stage, this is unlikely to be the cause of the problem, as FMyan also uses a monophthong for these two vowels (see extract 21 above). Sometimes, the problem in understanding a question is lexical rather than anything to do with pronunciation. In extract 56, MIndon uses an unusual word, sit, to ask how long the students study in high school, and MCamb misunderstands him. FSing then helps out by suggesting stay instead of sit, and MCamb finally offers a more appropriate response.
(56) MIndon: So how long do do they have to sit in the s- er junior high school and senior high school? (0.9) MCamb: Ive been teaching there for two years, up to my graduation, er from er MIndon: No, I mean er er how many years do students have to [sit FSing: [stay MIndon: to stay in the junior high school MCamb: [erm MIndon: [and senior high school. MCamb: Erm, in in in in Cambodia, er s- er junior high school starts from grade seven {gp3-f:53-82}

Extract 57 is another example of an inappropriate response, as FLao gives the name of the teacher rather than explaining how the teacher manages. Again, it is hard to identify any feature of pronunciation that might have caused this problem, and it seems more likely that it arises because FLao does not hear (or does not understand) the word manage.
(57) FSing: And how m- how many teachers are there in that in that class? FLao: Only one teacher.
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[Only one teacher. [And how does she manage? Ah her name is XXX. Oh? How does she [manage? [How how I mean so many pupils. Erm she says she she cant make students in a group of teaching, just write on the board. {gp2-d:46-67}

In extracts 55 to 57, the problem is connected with overlapping speech, with the listening skills of the addressee, or with the word usage by the questioner, and the failure to understand the question does not seem to be connected with pronunciation. However, there is one instance in our data of a misunderstood question that is directly related to pronunciation. In extract 58, FMyan asks about buying beads, and her pronunciation of pearl combines two non-standard features: the initial /p/ has no aspiration, so it sounds like [b], and she uses [a ] instead of /# / as the vowel. As discussed above, reduced aspiration on an initial plosive is quite common in the region, so it is likely that this feature on its own would not have caused a problem. However, when combined with the replacement of the vowel, there is a temporary break-down in communication, as this replacement is not generally found among speakers from ASEAN countries.
(58) FMyan: by the way er have you seen any er pearl [ba l] beads at the shopping centre? FIndon: Bal bead whats that? FMyan: Pearl er er pearl necklace FIndon: Yeah, a lot but too expensive {gp5-i:83-96}

Here it seems that the problem is the unexpected use of [a ] in pearl, which is a feature of pronunciation that is not shared by other speakers. It is interesting to note that Jenkins (2000: 1456) specifically highlights the substitution of [a ] for /# / as giving rise to a few instances of incomprehension in her data. We can only speculate whether this break-down in communication in our data would have occurred if there had been longer aspiration on the initial plosive in pearl.
Statements As discussed above, there are probably some misunderstandings which we do not get to find out about as the participants let them pass. However, there are a few occasions where the misunderstanding does become apparent, most obviously when someone asks for clarification, but also when the speakers sense miscomprehension, possibly because of facial expressions or a pause, so they try to offer clarification. The first two extracts involving misunderstanding of statements involve unusual concepts, and it seems clear that pronunciation is not an issue. In extract 59, FSing is talking about shopping and says that her friend wanted to obtain Chinese drums, but FMyan does not understand this and so asks for clarification. It seems unlikely that any aspect of the pronunciation has caused this misunderstanding. FMyan repeats the word Chinese, so that is not a problem, and it seems just the concept of Chinese drums is unfamiliar to her.
(59) FSing: She wanted to get the erm Chinese drums for her son. FMyan: Yeah.
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David Deterding and Andy Kirkpatrick Um, and [er [Chinese dThe drums, the drums. Drum, drum. Yes [yes. [Drum, oh oh. {gp2-a:16-27}

Similarly, in extract 60, FMyan recognizes the words incidental way correctly, but she is uncertain what the concept means and so asks for it to be explained. While the word way is produced as [we ], with little diphthongal movement, it is clear this has not contributed to the problem as FMyan repeats the words correctly.
(60) FMyan: By the way, I would like to know how to teach grammar in your er school. So what er your country? FSing: OK, er, ever since the new syllabus was introduced, er we do not er teach grammar the incidental way. OK, so we follow the um what do you call it, textbook, and er from the foundation years which is um P1, 2 and 3, there is a structured FMyan: Incidental way? FSing: Incidental way [was the FMyan: [What do you mean? FSing: communicative approach [where we um FMyan: [Communicative approach FSing: teach grammar incidentally FMyan: Incidentally. FSing: but er ever since the 2001 new syllabus was introduced, so er grammar is taught in a more structured way. {gp2-c:52-87}

There are just a few clear instances where the pronunciation does contribute directly to the misunderstanding. What is noticeable is that, in each case, the problematic feature of pronunciation is one that is not found with speakers from other countries in the region. In extract 61, the pronunciation of FLao exhibits a number of unusual features, including the use of [n] as the final consonant in school, [w] instead of /l/ in only, [ti ] for three, and [ts] instead of /t1/ in teacher. The pause of 1.0 seconds (and possibly the facial expressions of her interlocutors) makes her realize that there is a problem, so she tries to clarify things, and when she pronounces three as [tri ], FSing indicates that she understands.
(61) FLao: especially in my nn school [sku n] there are only [onwi] three [ti ] teacher [ti tsE] (1.0) three [tri ] teacher [ti tsE] FSing: Three teachers FLao: [Yes, three teachers. FSing: [trained to teach English FLao: Yes, all trained. {gp2-d:15-25}

Note that the loss of the /r/ in three may cause a problem, but the use of [t] in place of /{/ almost certainly does not, for when three is pronounced as [tri ], FSing manages to understand it perfectly well. As discussed above, use of [t] in place of /{/ is a well-established pronunciation feature throughout the ASEAN region. Let us now consider the male speaker from Laos. He also uses [n] in place of a final /l/, and in extract 62 he pronounces holes as [ho*nz]. Even though everything else he says is perfectly clear, this single unexpected feature on one word confounds his interlocutors because it is not a feature that they are familiar with.
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(62) MLao: You know, er, at the time that erm (tsk) tsunami occurs there (0.6) there were some problems in my country (0.9) FPhil: Mm. MMal: What problem? MLao: Yeah, weve some problem, we have big holes [ho*nz] (0.6) in in some areas. MMal: Horns? Sorry? MLao: Hole [ho*nt], you know hole [ho*nt]? FPhil: What hone? MLao: Yeah, big hole [ho*n]. MMal: What FPhil: Whats a hone? MMal: Sorry. MLao: H O L E something like this. MMal: Holes? MLao: Yeah. MMal: Oh, you mean a hole in the ground. MLao: Yeah. {gp6-j:65-91}

It is interesting that in this extract, MLao is completely unaware what the problem is, and though he tries to explain himself, he fails to fix the problematic [n] and instead adds a spurious [t] to the end of the word (a phenomenon that has been reported in Singapore English (Lim and Deterding, 2005) and also Hong Kong English (Setter and Deterding, 2003)). In the end, he resorts to spelling out the word to make himself understood. Another instance of misunderstanding arising out of unexpected pronunciation occurs in extract 63, where FViet pronounces sauce with an initial [1] rather than /s/.
(63) FViet: Of course we have to er make er some sauce [1$ s] (0.7) FMal: mmm FViet: sauce [1$ s] yeah erm you er you erm sauce [1$ s] yeah it is er er a little water a little sugar a little fish sauce [1$ s] some chilli and some pepper FMal: mmm FViet: Yeah FBrun: OK, guys enough about food. {gp4-f:18-36}

Even though they are talking about food at the time, and even though use of [1] in place of /s/ is perhaps not a very major substitution and in fact it might be expected with some speakers from South China, including Taiwan, where the local pronunciation of Mandarin does not distinguish [1] from [s], this substitution is not common in the ASEAN region, so it does cause a problem here. Although FViet repeats the word three more times and even tries to explain it (by mentioning water and sugar), the others fail to understand and eventually one of them suggests a change in subject. Finally, let us consider extract 64, where the occurrence of a [t] in the pronunciation of us makes it sound more like arts.
(64) FMyan: They can get, they can acquire more English than us [8ts] (1.2) FSing: [hmm-mmm FMyan: [but mm er in our time we have to memorize some er most of the vocabulary in our mind and FSing: [mmm FMyan: [we have to erm er r- repeat er before the teachers {gp2-f:29-48}
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The longish pause (1.2 seconds) and the use of a neutral back-channel by FSing suggests she does not understand and is just encouraging FMyan to continue in the hope that it will all get sorted out in time. In fact, FMyan does continue, so there is no real break-down in communication here. But it does seem likely that the occurrence of a [t] in us caused a problem for FSing.

CONCLUSION

In the extracts cited above, there are five examples where pronunciation seems to be a contributing factor to misunderstandings: in extract 58, there is the use of [a ] in pearl by FMyan; in 61, FLao omits the /r/ in three; in 62, MLao uses [n] at the end of holes; in 63, FViet pronounces sauce with an initial [1]; and in 64, FMyan has a [t] in us. None of these is a common feature found in the pronunciation of speakers from other ASEAN countries, and that is why the problems arise. It is interesting to note that all five of these features are ones which Jenkins (2000) found caused problems in her data of international communication, so all five are included in her Lingua Franca Core. In contrast, we have no evidence that any of the shared pronunciation features of the emerging ASEAN English lingua franca which we identified above have contributed to a break-down in communication. In fact, it seems likely that some of the features, particularly the avoidance of reduced vowels in unstressed syllables and also the clear bisyllabic enunciation of triphthongs, actually enhance understanding. Furthermore, there seems little reason to encourage speakers in the ASEAN region to adopt a diphthongal pronunciation of /eI/ and /E*/ (a feature that is excluded from Jenkins Lingua Franca Core), especially as producing these vowels as diphthongs is likely in some countries to make the speaker sound pretentious and insincere. As speakers in ASEAN travel more and more to each others countries and engage in ever more widespread trade and tourism, it seems likely that a variety of English well-suited to the needs of its users will continue to become established, and this emergent English lingua franca will be characterized by many of its own features of pronunciation. At that time, it may be that speakers from countries such as Britain and America will need to undergo retraining if they want to do business in the region, and learners from ASEAN countries will no longer always have to refer to external norms for their teaching materials, though of course the need to maintain intelligibility for listeners from Asian countries outside of ASEAN will still remain an issue. Perhaps the most important skill, however, is the ability to accommodate ones pronunciation to the needs of ones listeners; and the knowledge of when that is required and how to achieve it is essential for international communication. It is likely that this skill at accommodation will continue to develop at the same time as the emergence of a regional English lingua franca.

APPENDIX: TRANSCRIPTION CONVENTIONS


{gp3-c:25} (0.4) when WE go
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the group number is followed by the extract letter and then the time (in seconds) from the start of the extract the duration of pauses (in seconds) pauses is shown in parentheses words with unexpected prominence are underlined and also shown in upper case
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overlapping speech from two different speakers is shown by means of aligned opening square brackets features of pronunciation that are of interest are presented in square brackets pronunciation that might be expected in external varieties of English, such as RP British English or General American, is shown in slashes indicates the omission of a name

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Work on this paper was supported by two research funds: the Australian Research Council (ARC) project DP 0558648, English as a Spoken Lingua Franca in ASEAN: A Study of its Linguistic and Socio-Cultural Features; and the National Institute of Education Academic Research project NIE: RI 1/03 LEL, Theoretical Speech Research and its Practical Implications. The data comes from a corpus being collected as part of the ARC project. We would like to thank the staff at RELC, especially Chris Ward and the two technicians, Anwar and Vellu, for helping to set up and run the recordings. None of this research would have been possible without their assistance.
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