English and cantonese phonology in contrast: Explaining cantonese ESL learners’ english pronunciation problems

Alice Y.W. Chan, Chor Shing David Li

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


It is argued that most if not all of the pronunciation problems encountered by Cantonese learners of English may be adequately accounted for by the contrastive differences discussed in this paper. The phonological differences between the two languages are examined, ranging from their phoneme inventories, the characteristics of the phonemes, the distributions of the phonemes, syllable structure, to the function of tones and their respective rhythmic patterns. At the segmental level, substitution by a related sound in the native language, deletion and epenthesis are by far the most common strategies Cantonese speakers employ when speaking or reading English. Pronunciation problems are also found at the suprasegmental level, that is, in connected speech and rhythm, resulting in the impression of a somewhat unnatural, “flat and boring” foreigner accent.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-85
Number of pages19
JournalLanguage, Culture and Curriculum
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language

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