The aspiration of voiceless stops by Brazilian learners in contexts of authentic communication
Keywords:pronunciation, aspiration, Brazilian learners
This paper aims at studying the production of aspiration by Brazilian learners of English. Aspiration is a quick projection of air released after voiceless stops when they are found in stressed syllables before vowel sounds. It is measured in milliseconds and is usually longer in native speakers than learners (Alves & Magro 2011). Most importantly, aspiration contributes decisively to intelligibility (Jenkins 2000). So, an understanding of the way aspiration operates in the speech of learners is important to help them improve their oral communication abilities. We analysed the recordings of ten students of Letters who were at intermediate or advanced levels of command of the language, totalizing 1590 occurrences. Those recordings compose the oral corpus LINDSEI-BR, which is the Brazilian branch of the LINDSEI project. Instead of controlled activities of reading texts in laboratories, the participants could talk freely about a variety of topics, in a context which was very similar to spontaneous speech in authentic communication. The length of aspiration was analysed using the software PRAAT. Our results revealed aspects regarding the students’ production of aspiration which had not been detected in similar studies and, thus, can provide future ones with other ways of looking into the phenomenon.