The present study examined the ability of 4th year students of Russian as a second language to use intonation to form intelligible questions. 25 speakers were recorded asking a question in which they were supposed to stress one word in the question using intonation, as is standard in Russian. They then received an intelligibility score based on whether the native Russian raters correctly understood that they were asking a question and what they were asking a question about. Additionally, native speakers rated the speech samples on accentedness, meaning how much the speech deviated from native norms and comprehensibility, meaning how difficult it was to understand the speaker. Both of these last two constructs, i.e., comprehensibility and accentedness were rated using a Likert scale. It was then examined whether there was correlation between intelligibility, comprehensibility and accentedness. This study found the L2 speakers of Russian were correctly understood as asking a question 89% of the time, but what the question was about was only correctly understood at a rate of 39%. Correlation was found between accentedness and comprehensibility, meaning that speakers with better accentedness also received higher comprehensibility scores. But no correlation was found between intelligibility and accentedness nor with comprehensibility. The study concludes with suggestions of why intonation is, in fact, important in communication and suggests areas for improvement in pedagogical settings as well as directions for future research which would include context-based dialogues and the use of Praat in judging statements.



College and Department

Humanities; Center for Language Studies



Date Submitted


Document Type





intonation, Russian, prosody, intelligibility, accentedness, comprehensibility