Thesis Title

The Ability of Americans to Determine Accent Or Language Spoken Solely on Nonverbal Aspects of Expression

Date of Graduation

Fall 1997


Master of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders


Communication Sciences and Disorders

Committee Chair

Julie Masterson

Subject Categories

Communication Sciences and Disorders


Little empirical evidence has been collected to confirm the common observations that speakers of differenct dialects and languages differ in nonverbal behaviors. Twelve Asian speakers were used. Six spoke English as their native language and 6 spoke Chinese as their native language. A total of 30 American viewers watched the individuals in both groups speak with no sound and with their lips censored. Fifteen of the viewers watched a tape of which English and Chinese was being spoken, and 15 watched another tape on which both groups were speaking English (the non-native English speakers spoke with a Chinese accent). The viewers were able to identify the speakers' native language with an accuracy hardly better than chance. The viewers achieved a significantly greater accuracy on speakers they rated as "easy" to classify than speakers they rated "moderate" or "hard" to classify. These findings and specific viewer comments are discussed as well as further research and clinical implications for speech-language pathologists and teachers of English as a second language.


© Gregory C Robinson