An Instrumental Analysis of the Acoustic Correlates to the Perception of 'Good English' in Singapore

Teo Yin Yin

English Language Honours AE, NIE, 2002


This study examines the acoustic correlates of 'good English'. In doing so, we hope to establish what the features of good English are. It also explores the possibility in using instruments to measure good English.

The study analysed four features that are normally associated with Singapore English (SgE) - vowel length, dental fricatives, vowel reduction and rhythm. A questionnaire study was also done on a group of trainee teachers from the National Institute of Education (NIE). They had to listen to a set of recordings and decide which speaker spoke 'good English'. The results were then coded and correlated to the acoustic analysis.

The results from the correlation shows that rhythmic variation and the presence of vowel reduction in one's speech correlate strongly with the perception of good English. Another feature which appears to correlate is the use of dental fricatives. In other words, these three features may actually constitute 'good English'. From the study however, we found that it is difficult to rely solely on instruments to measure good English. The limitations of instrumental analysis would also be explored.