Suprasegmentals and Prosody

Who's to Judge?

If you ask the average person on the street what makes a non-native speaker understandable or not, they'll usually say it's vocabulary and grammar. But if the word choice and grammar are generally correct, our brains can compensate for errors here and there.

What is critical for non-native speakers to gain control over and what makes the biggest difference to listeners - and what often goes overlooked - is the part of speaking that involves muscle memory: Word stress, tone, word juncture, intonation, rhythm, and non-lexicals. These are called suprasegmentals/prosody.

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