Variation in phonological error in interlanguage talk
The research begins with an examination of the problems attending the growth in the use of English as a lingua franca between non-native speakers. It is argued that vanable first-language specific phonological 'errors' generate much of the miscommunication that is a characteristic of such interlanguage talk (ILT), original support for this claim being provided by a pilot study involving non-native speaker postgraduate students. Following a brief reappraisal of the place of language transfer in second language acquisition, its role in interlanguage (IL) phonology is examined in detail. Phonological transfer is revealed as a central and complex feature of the developing IL The theoretical position is exemplified by a selection of phonological transfer errors drawn from ILT classroom observation, such errors being redefmed in seriousness according to a taxonomy of new criteria based essentially on their effects on ILT communication. The extensive variation to which these taxonomic errorS are subject is discussed in the light of current theories of IL variation, and Accommodation Theory is concluded to have the greatest potential to account for phonological transfer or variation in ILT. The motivations underlying the accommodative processes of convergence and divergence are discussed and the framework is then extended to a motivation considered more salient in ILT: that of interlocutor comprehensibility. Two empirical studies investigate phonological variation in ILT from an accommodation perspective, the findings leading to the conclusion that while accommodation has an essential role in determining phonological error in ILT, its linguistic manifestation is usually one of suppression and non-suppression rather than of traditional convergence and divergence. Pedagogical implications of the research include the benefits of pair and smallgroup work, thus supporting previous research, and the need for classroom exposure to IL varieties of English.