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The age at which speakers begin to immerse themselves into a language (such as English) is linked to the degree to which native speakers are able to detect a non-native accent; the exact nature of the link is disputed amongst scholars and may be affected by "neurological plasticity, cognitive development, motivation, psychosocial states, formal instruction, language learning aptitude", and the usage of their first (L1) and second (L2) languages.
English is unusual in that speakers rarely produce an audible release between consonant clusters and often overlap constriction times. Speaking English with a timing pattern that is dramatically different may lead to speech that is difficult to understand.
More transparently, differing phonological distinctions between a speaker's first language and English create a tendency to neutralize such distinctions in English, and differences in the inventory or distribution of sounds may cause substitutions of native sounds in the place of difficult English sounds and/or simple deletion. This is more common when the distinction is subtle between English sounds or between a sound of English and of a speaker's primary language. While there is no evidence to suggest that a simple absence of a sound or sequence in one language's phonological inventory makes it difficult to learn, several theoretical models have presumed that non-native speech perceptions reflect both the abstract phonological properties and phonetic details of the native language.
Non-native pronunciations may be transmitted to the children of learners, who will then exhibit a number of the same characteristics despite being native speakers themselves. For example, this process has resulted in many of the distinctive qualities of Irish English and Highland English which were heavily influenced by a Goidelicsubstratum.
General features among most or all Arabic speakers:
Confusion between /?/ as in sit/s?t/ and /?/ as in set/s?t/, pronouncing both vowels as , , or .
Difficulty distinguishing low sounds, /æ/ as in bam and /?:/ as in balm may both be realized as , , or depending on the speaker's dialect.
Confusion between /?:/ as in called and caught with /o?/ as in cold and coat, both being realized as or depending on the speaker's dialect.
These are the most common characteristics of the Czech pronunciation of English:
Final devoicing of voiced consonants (e.g. "bet" and "bed" are both pronounced [b?t]), since non-sonorant consonants are always voiceless at the end of words in Czech. Some speakers may pronounce consonant-final English words with a strong vocalic offset,[definition needed] especially in isolated words (e.g. "dog" can be ['d]).
Czech /r/ is alveolar trill. There is a tendency to pronounce the trill in English and in all positions where ⟨r⟩ is written.
Final -er (-or) pronounced as syllabic alveolar trill [r?] (e.g. "water" sounds ['v?:tr?]). Stressed /?:/ tends to be realized as [?:r] (e.g. "bird" [b?:rt]).
Tendency to realize both /v/ and /w/ as [v], since /w/ does not exist in Czech.
Tendency to pronounce the initial ⟨wr⟩ cluster as [vr] (e.g. "write" [vrajt]).
Tendency to realize /?/ as [s] or [f], since [?] does not exist in Czech.
Tendency to substitute /ð/ as [d] or [d?z], since [ð] does not exist in Czech.
Tendency to pronounce /h/ as voiced (e.g. "how" [?au?]).
Tendency not to aspirate the stops /p, t, t?, k/ (e.g. "keep" sounds [ki:p] instead of [k?i:p]), since these stop consonants are not aspirated in Czech.
/æ/ is often realised as [?], so that "had" sounds like "head" [t], homophonous with "hat".
Schwa [?] does not exist in Czech. Speakers tend to pronounce it as [?] (e.g. "a table" [? 't?jbl?]) or [a] (e.g. "China" ['tajna]).
Tendency to realise /?/ as [?k] or  (e.g. "singing" ['sgk]), because Czech [?] is an allophone of /n/ before velar stops.
Tendency to isolate all words in speech, because the liaison is unusual in Czech. For instance, "see it" tends to be pronounced [si?t], rather than [si:t].
The melody of the Czech language is not so strong as in English. Czech speakers may sound monotonous to an English ear.
These are some of the most significant errors a Dutch speaker might have:
Pronunciation of consonants
Speakers have difficulty with dental fricatives, often pronouncing /ð/ as [d] (failing to contrast then and den) or [s] (especially between vowels). Similarly, the dental fricative /?/ is replaced by [s] or [t], though Belgian speakers may pronounce both /?/ and /ð/ as [f] in word-final position.
The voiced stops and fricatives undergo terminal devoicing, especially in stressed syllables, causing feed and feet to be pronounced as the latter. Similarly, Dutch voicing assimilation patterns may be applied to English utterances so that, for example, iceberg is pronounced as [a?zb?:k], and if I as [?v a?].
Speakers have difficulty with the glottalization of /p t k/, either not pronouncing it or applying it in the wrong contexts so that good morning is pronounced [ 'm?:n].
The voiceless stops /p t k/ lack aspiration in stressed syllable-initial context.
Medial /t/ is replaced by /d/ so that better is pronounced as [b?d?].
The postalveolar sibilants /t? d? ? ?/ tend to be pronounced as their alveolo-palatal equivalents in Dutch: [t? ? d? ?]; beginners may pronounce them as alveolar (and voiceless) [ts] or [s] in syllable-final positions, leading to wish being pronounced as [w?s].
/?/ may be confused with /k/ and /v/ with /f/ in initial position.
/l/ may be strongly pharyngealized, even in contexts where dark l doesn't normally appear in English. Beginners may insert an epentheticschwa between /l/ and a following /p, f, m, k/, leading to milk being pronounced as ['m?l?k].
// is replaced by [o:]. More advanced speakers might use the Dutch diphthong [e:u].
/a?/ tends to be overly long before fortis consonants, giving the impression of a following lenis consonant.
Because of the phonetic differences between English and French rhotics, speakers may perceive English , allophonically labialized to , as -like and have trouble distinguishing between /r/ and /w/.
French speakers have difficulty with and many delete it, as most French dialects do not have this sound.
French speakers have difficulty with dental fricatives /?/ and /ð/ (since these sounds do not exist in French). In France they may be pronounced as /s/ and /z/, while in Quebec, Canada, the usual substitution is /t/ and /d/.
Speakers tend not to make a contrast between /?/ (as in ship) and /i:/. (as in sheep).
In Hebrew, word stress is usually on the last (ultimate) or penultimate syllable of a word; speakers may carry their stress system into English, which has a much more varied stress system. Hebrew speakers may also use Hebrew intonation patterns which mark them as foreign speakers of English.
The dental fricatives and may be realised as [s?] and respectively.
Since Hungarian lacks the phoneme , many Hungarian speakers substitute for /w/ when speaking in English. A less frequent practice is hypercorrection: substituting /w/ for /v/ in instances where the latter is actually correct.
Studies on Italian speakers' pronunciation of English revealed the following characteristics:
Tendency to realise as [??] ("singer" rhymes with "finger") or as because Italian [?] is an allophone of /n/ before velar stops.
Difficulty with English vowels
and are pronounced (ship and sheep are homophones);
(in certain words) and are pronounced (bad and bed are homophones);
(in certain words), , and are pronounced (bat, but, and bath are homophones);
and are pronounced (cook and kook are homophones);
Speakers tend to have little difficulty with , though some might pronounce it as or ).
The pronunciation of , //, and /o?/ are variable, pronounced as or .
The /?l/ sequence in words like bottle is realized as [?l], [?l], or [?l].
Tendency to realise word-initial /sm/ with [zm], e.g. small[zm?l]. This voicing also applies to /sl/ and /sn/. The main reason is that the letter "s" is always pronounced as before a voiced consonant in Italian.
Italian does not have dental fricatives:
Voiceless may be realised as or .
Voiced may be realised as .
Since and are typically pronounced as dental stops anyway, words like there and dare can become homophones.
Schwa does not exist in Italian; speakers tend to give the written vowel its full pronunciation, e.g. lemon['l?m?n], television[?tle'vin], parrot['p?r(:)?t?], intelligent[in?'tl(:)idn?t?], water['w?tr], sugar['?u?ar].
Italian speakers may pronounce consonant-final English words with a strong vocalic offset,[definition needed] especially in isolated words, e.g. dog['d:?].
Tendency to realise as ; a trill rather than the native approximant ~, even when the dialect of English they are learning is nonrhotic.
In addition, Italians learning English have a tendency to pronounce words as they are spelled, so that walk is [walk], guide is [?wid?], and boiled is ['b?il?d]. This is also true for loanwords borrowed from English as water (water closet), which is pronounced ['vatr] instead of ['w?:t?(r)].
Speakers tend to confuse /l/ and /r/ both in perception and production, since the Japanese language has only one liquid phoneme /r/, whose possible realizations include central and lateral . Speakers may also hear English /r/ as similar to the Japanese /w/.
Various pronunciation mistakes are bound to happen among Brazilian L2 speakers of English, among which:
Pronunciation of vowels
Confusion of /?/ and /i:/, usually realized as , and of /?/ and /u:/, usually realized as .
Especially in a British context, confusion of // and /?/. The Brazilian /?/ is equivalent to RP English /?/, and English orthography rarely makes a clear demarcation between the phonemes, thus cold (ideally ['k?d]) might be homophone with called/'k?:ld/. The North American equivalent of British //, /o?/, may be easier to perceive as it closely resembles the Portuguese diphthong [ow]. Speakers may also have trouble distinguishing between schwa and /?/.
In a British context, the diphthong // might also be pronounced as the Portuguese diphthong eu, [ew].
Persistent preference for /æ/ over /?:/ (even if the target pronunciation is England's prestige accent), and use of /æ/ within the IPA [?] space (Portuguese /?/ is often [æ], what makes it even more due to confusion in production and perception), so that can't, even in RP, might sound like an American pronunciation of Kent. Some might even go as far as having [le?st] instead of /læst ~ l?:st/ for last
Pronunciation of consonants
Difficulty with dental fricatives /?/ and /ð/. These may be instead fronted [f v], stopped [t? d?] or hissed [s? z?].
Speakers may pronounce word-initial r as a guttural ar pronunciations or a trill). These often sound to English speakers as /h/, leading to confusion between ray and hay, red and head, height and right, etc.
Neutralization of coda /m n ?/, giving preference to a multitude of nasal vowels (often forming random diphthongs with [j? w? ], or also randomly losing them, so that sent and saint, and song and sown, are homophonous) originating from their deletion. Vowels are also often strongly nasalized when stressed and succeeded by a nasal consonant, even if said consonant starts a full syllable after it.
Fluctuation of the levels of aspiration of voiceless stops /p t k/, that might sound like /b d g/.
Loss of contrast between coronal stops /t d/ and post-alveolar affricates /t? d?/ due to palatalization of the earlier, before vowels such as /i:/, /?/, /ju:/, and /?/.
Epenthetic [i] to break up consonant clusters.
Palatalization due to epenthetic /? ~ i:/, so that night sounds slightly like nightch (['najt? ~ 'najt?i?] rather than /'na?t/) and light sounds like lightchie (['lajt?i] rather than /la?t/).
Loss of unstressed, syllable-final [i ~ ? ~ ?] to palatalization, so that city sounds slightly like sitch (['sit? ~ sit?i?] rather than /'s?ti/).
Post-alveolar affricates /t? d?/ are easily confused with their fricative counterparts /? ?/, often merging chip and ship, cheap and sheep, and pledger and pleasure.
Absence of contrast of voice for coda fricatives. He's, hiss and his are easily homophonous. Spelling pronunciations, with all words with historical schwas left in the orthography being pronounced /z/ even when the usual would be /s/, are also possible.
English is less prone to perfect liaison-style sandhi than Portuguese, Spanish and French might be. Often, two identical or very similar consonants follow each other within a row, each in a different word, and both should be pronounced. Brazilians might either perform epenthesis or delete one of them. As such, this stop is produced either ['dis i?s't?pi? ~ 'diz is't?pi?] or ['di s't?pi?], instead of the native /ð?s 'st?p/
In Portuguese, the semivowels [j] and [w] may be vocalized to their corresponding vowels ([i] and [u], respectively). so that I love you is pronounced ['aj 'l?vi: 'u:]. These semivowels may also be epenthetically inserted between vowels of very dissimilar qualities.
With the exception of /s ~ z/ (here represented with a loss of contrast at the end of a word) and /r/, consonants tend to not elide corresponding to or assimilate to the next word's phoneme, even in connected speech. This means, for example, occasional epenthesis even if the following word starts in a vowel, as in their native language (not[?i] really).
There is no in Russian; speakers typically substitute .
Native Russian speakers tend to produce an audible release for final consonants and in consonant clusters and are likely to transfer this to English speech, creating inappropriate releases of final bursts that sound overly careful and stilted and even causing native listeners to perceive extra unstressed syllables.
Word-initial voiceless stops , , may not aspirated by Russian speakers (following the pattern in Russian), which may sound to native English speakers as , , instead.[better source needed] However, at least one study challenges this, with Russian-accented English speakers in the study aspirating the voiceless consonants just as much as General American English speakers, and even more than General American speakers.
Word-final obstruents are pronounced voiceless in Russian even if spelled with letters otherwise denoting their voiced counterparts, and speakers may fail to pronounce word-final voiced obstruents in English correctly, substituting for etc.
There are no dental fricatives ( and ) in Russian, and native Russian speakers may pronounce them respectively as or or and as or .
Difficulty with English vowels. Russian speakers may have difficulty distinguishing and , and , and and ; similarly, speakers' pronunciation of long vowels may sound more like their close counterpart (e.g. may sound closer to /æ/)
Speakers typically realise English /r/ as a trilled , the native Russian rhotic.
Likewise, may be pronounced like its closest Russian equivalent, .
Since there is no in Russian, speakers typically produce  or [n?] instead.
The palato-alveolar affricate may be realised as a sequence of a stop and a fricative: .
The "clear" alveolar may be realised as Russian , sounding closer to English "dark" velarised .
Consonants written twice in English may be pronounced geminated by Russian speakers.
Confusion of /æ//?(:)//?/, usually realized as [a]
Confusion of /?//i(:)/, usually realized as [i].
Confusion of /?//u(:)/, usually realized as [u].
Confusion of /?(:)//?/, usually realized as [o].
Since Spanish does not make voicing contrasts between its fricatives (and its one affricate), speakers may neutralize contrasts between and ; likewise, fricatives may assimilate the voicing of a following consonant.
Cuban and other Central American speakers tend to merge with , and /d?, ?/ with .
/j/ and often have a fluctuating degree of closure.
For the most part (especially in colloquial speech), Spanish allows only five (or six) word-final consonants: , , , and ; speakers may omit word-final consonants other than these, or alter them (for example, by turning to /n/ or /?/).
In Spanish, /s/ must immediately precede or follow a vowel; often a word beginning with [s] + consonant will obtain an epenthetic vowel (typically ) to make stomp pronounced [e?s'to?mp] rather than [st?mp].
In Spanish, the /?/ phoneme exists only in (most dialects of) Spain; where this sound appears in English, speakers of other Spanish dialects replace /?/ with , /s/ or .
Speakers tend to merge and , pronouncing both as a plosive unless they occur in intervocalic position, in which case they are pronounced as a fricative. A similar process occurs with and , because does not exist in Spanish.
The three nasal phonemes of Spanish neutralize in coda-position; speakers may invariably pronounce nasal consonants as homorganic to a following consonant; if word-final (as in welcome) common realizations include , deletion with nasalization of the preceding vowel, or .
Note: There are three main dialects in Vietnamese, a northern one centered on Hanoi, a central one whose prestige accent is centered on Hu?, and a southern one centered on Ho Chi Minh City.
Speakers may not produce final consonants since there are fewer final consonants in Vietnamese and those that do exist differ in their phonetic quality:
Final is likely to be confused with .
Final is likely to be confused with .
Final is likely to be omitted.
Final is likely to be confused with , but some Vietnamese pronounce the word bell as [u?]
Final is likely to be confused with by southern Vietnamese.
Speakers also have difficulty with English consonant clusters, with segments being omitted or epenthetic vowels being inserted.
Speakers may not aspirate initial /p/, /t/, /k/ and /t?/, native English-speakers think that they pronounce as and . For example, when Vietnamese people pronounced the word tie, native English-speakers think that they say the word die or dye. 
Speakers often have difficulty with the following phonemes and confuse them, which may depend in some cases upon where in Vietnam they are originally from:
with /t/, /s/.
with /d/, /z/.
with /b/ (especially in southern dialects).
with or /d?/.
with /?/ by northern Vietnamese.
/tr/ with /d?/, /t?/, or /t/ by northern Vietnamese.
with /j/ by southern Vietnamese.
with or /?/.
Vietnamese is a tonal language and speakers may try to use the Vietnamese tonal system or use a mid tone with English words, but they pronounce with a high tone when the closed syllable is followed by /p, t, k/. They may also associate tones onto the intonational pattern of a sentence and become confused with such inflectional changes.[clarification needed]
^Deterding, D., Wong J., & Kirkpatrick, A. (2008). The pronunciation of Hong Kong English. English World-Wide, 29, 148-149.
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