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Book: Comprehensibility in Language Assessment

Chapter: Comprehensibility at a Phonological Level

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.41098


This chapter focuses on the more traditional scope of the comprehensibility/intelligibility construct and takes an analytical approach to examining evidence related to phonemic and prosodic linguistic components affecting comprehensibility of spoken language. An overview of the features that have been identified by previous studies is presented and categorised (e.g. Isaacs & Harding, 2017; Isaacs & Trofimovich, 2012), including those occurring at phoneme level (articulation), word level (segmental units, word stress) and sentence level (intonation, pitch, fluency). The features are then examined from three key perspectives:
a) reported impact on comprehensibility
b) how the features are reflected in rating scales
c) whether the features are L1-dependent

Chapter Contributors

  • Parvaneh Tavakoli ( - parvaneh) 'University of Reading'
  • Sheryl Cooke ( - scooke) 'British Council'