2015 | 13 | 1 | 39-50
Article title

On how Happy Polish Advanced EFL Learners Are With HappY-Tensing

Title variants
Languages of publication
This paper aims at investigating the production of happY vowel by advanced Polish learners of English. Although happY tensing has become a regular feature of mainstream RP, it is not explicitly taught at English philologies in Poland. There are few studies that deal with the analysis of the phonetic quality of happY by native speakers of English (Fabricius, 2002; Harrington, 2006), and we know of no published studies aimed at EFL learners. The study presented in this paper included 34 Polish students of English philology. Spectral and durational data on FLEECE, KIT and happY in three contexts (prevocalic, preconsonatal and prepausal) were obtained. The results showed that Polish advanced EFL learners produced happY that is spectrally similar to FLEECE in the prevocalic and prepausal contexts but not in the preconsonantal one. Moreover, the participants did not use duration to make up for the spectral properties of happY. Preconsonantal and prevocalic happY were shorter than FLEECE, whereas prepausal happY was longer than FLEECE due to phrase-final lengthening effects.
Physical description
  • Adam Mickiewicz University
  • Koszalin University of Technology
  • Bogacka, A., Schwartz, G., Zydorowicz, P., Połczyńska, M., & Orzechowska, P. (2006). The production and perception of schwa in second language acquisition: The case of Polish learners of English. In K. Dziubalska-Kołaczyk (Ed.), IFAtuation: A life in IFA. A festschrift for Professor Jacek Fisiak on the occasion of his 70th birthday (pp. 71-84). Poznań: Wydawnictwo Naukowe UAM.
  • Bogacka, A. (2004). On the perception of English high vowels by Polish learners of English. In E. Daskalaki, N. Katsos, M. Mavrogiorgos, & M. Reeve (Eds.), CamLing 2004: Proceedings of the University of Cambridge Second Postgraduate Conference in Language Research (pp. 43-50). Cambridge Institute of Language Research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Fabricius, A. (2002). Weak vowels in modern RP: an acoustic study of happY- tensing and KIT/schwa shift. Language Variation and Change, 14, 211-237.
  • Gimson A. C., & Cruttenden, A. (2000). Gimson’s pronunciation of English. London: Edward Arnold.
  • Ferragne, E., & Pellegrino, F. (2010). Formant frequencies of vowels in 13 accents of the British Isles. Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 40(1), 1-34.
  • Harrington, J. (2006). An acoustic analysis of ‘happY-tensing’ in the Queen’s Christmas broadcasts. Journal of Phonetics, 34, 439-457.
  • Major R. C. (2001). Foreign Accent: The Ontogeny and Phylogeny Model of Second Language Phonology. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Sobkowiak, W. (2001). English phonetics for Poles. Poznań: Wydawnictwo Poznańskie.
  • Thomas, E. R., & Kendall, T. (2007). NORM: The vowel normalization and plotting suite. [Online Resource:]
  • Trudgill, P. (1999). The dialects of England. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Trudgill, P. (2008). The Historical Sociolinguistics of Elite Accent Change: On Why RP is not disappearing. Studia Anglica Posnaniensia 44, 1-12.
  • Weckwerth J. (2010). Vowel variation in advanced Polish learners of English. In K. Dziubalska-Kolaczyk, M. Wrembel, & M. Kul (Eds.), Proceedings of the 6th International Symposium on the Acquisition of Second Language Speech (New Sounds 2010) (pp 542-547). Poznań: AMU Publishing House.
  • Wells, J. (1982). Accents of English. Cambridge: CUP.
  • Wells, J. (1990). Longman Pronunciation Dictionary. Longman.
  • Wells, J. (2012). happY again (Blog post, 7 Jun. 2012). John Wells’s Phonetic Blog ( (date of access 30 Jul. 2014).
  • Windsor-Lewis, J. (1990). Happyland reconnoitered. In S. Ramsaran (Ed.), Studies in the Pronunciation of English (pp 159-67). London: Routledge.
  • Wood-Wallace, D. (2012). Exploring Sociophonetics within Nottingham: The happy Vowel. [Unpublished PhD thesis, Nottingham Trent University.]
Document Type
Publication order reference
YADDA identifier
JavaScript is turned off in your web browser. Turn it on to take full advantage of this site, then refresh the page.