Communicative responsibility in non-native speech. Overcoming foreign accent in English in religious discourse


Apart from evoking accent-based stereotypes, non-native speech has been found to pose threat to intelligibility and overburden listeners with additional cognitive load which may evoke their irritation (Johansson 1975; Kelly 2000; Munro 2003; Lippi-Green 2012; Moyer 2013). The paper discusses the notion of communicative responsibility defined as speaker’s effort to overcome the undesirable consequences of foreign accent for the sake of efficient conveyance of relevant message. Five religious lectures (amounting to 5hrs of audio-visual material) delivered in Polish-accented English are discussed with respect to the speaker’s non-native pronunciation and his morally motivated effort to convey the message precisely despite phonetically deviant speech. The shortcomings of non-native pronunciation are anticipated and targeted by preventive strategies, such as disambiguation, frequent repetition and use of emphatic stress to highlight the most relevant information, eliciting direct feedback from the listeners, monitoring their non-verbal responses, as well as the employment of enhancing devices, such as gestures.


communicative responsibility; foreign-accented speech; preventive strategies; intelligibility; religious discourse

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Published : 2019-09-30

Bryła-Cruz, A. (2019) “Communicative responsibility in non-native speech. Overcoming foreign accent in English in religious discourse”, Crossroads. A Journal of English Studies, (26), pp. 4-20. doi: 10.15290/cr.2019.26.3.01.

Agnieszka Bryła-Cruz 
Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, Poland  Poland

Agnieszka Bryła-Cruz is an Adjunct Professor at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, Poland. Her main research interests concern the role of linguistic and socio-linguistic factors in Second Language Acquisition, particularly pronunciation, and the perception of non-native accents by English native speakers. More recently, she has studied the role of phonetics in listening comprehension in a series of empirical studies.