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McCrum (2010:285) claims that English has now attained the status of a global language. He therefore coined the term “Globish” to describe the vast reach of English around the globe. He also notes that “Globish will remain the means by which an educated minority of the planet communicates.” On page 232, he attributes the expanding influence of English to capitalism, “The more global capitalism boomed, the more English developed as its preferred medium of communication: contagious, adaptable, populist and subversive. … A global information network, and a global market, require a global language, but one that is not, overtly, the instrument of empire.” The forces that have spread English around the world are the same that are spreading it now to Vietnam. Yet, Vietnamese-accented English (VAE) has been singled out as one of the most difficult to understand. In this paper, we examine why by focusing on the acoustic phonetic characteristics of vowels produced by VAE speakers. Vowels are singled out for investigation because they contribute in no small measure to (un)intelligibility.



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