The Impact of Alcohol on L1 versus L2

Tom F. Offrede, Jidde Jacobi, Teja Rebernik, Lisanne de Jong, Stefanie Keulen, Pauline Veenstra, Aude Noiray, Martijn Wieling*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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    Alcohol intoxication is known to affect many aspects of human behavior and cognition; one of such affected systems is articulation during speech production. Although much research has revealed that alcohol negatively impacts pronunciation in a first language (L1), there is only initial evidence suggesting a potential beneficial effect of inebriation on articulation in a non-native language (L2). The aim of this study was thus to compare the effect of alcohol consumption on pronunciation in an L1 and an L2. Participants who had ingested different amounts of alcohol provided speech samples in their L1 (Dutch) and L2 (English), and native speakers of each language subsequently rated the pronunciation of these samples on their intelligibility (for the L1) and accent nativelikeness (for the L2). These data were analyzed with generalized additive mixed modeling. Participants' blood alcohol concentration indeed negatively affected pronunciation in L1, but it produced no significant effect on the L2 accent ratings. The expected negative impact of alcohol on L1 articulation can be explained by reduction in fine motor control. We present two hypotheses to account for the absence of any effects of intoxication on L2 pronunciation: (1) there may be a reduction in L1 interference on L2 speech due to decreased motor control or (2) alcohol may produce a differential effect on each of the two linguistic subsystems.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)681-692
    Number of pages12
    JournalLanguage and speech
    Issue number3
    Early online date28-Aug-2020
    Publication statusPublished - 1-Sept-2021


    • Acute alcohol consumption
    • articulation
    • speech
    • bilingualism
    • SPEECH

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