Accent and Dialect Theorists

  • Created by: iona_Cb
  • Created on: 04-06-21 13:53

Early Theorist

Thomas Pear - 1931

  • People have different perceptions of a speaker, according to the accent they hear them talk with
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Martha's Vineyard

William Labov - 1961

  • Martha's Vineyard:
    • An island in Massachusetts
    • Every summer, many tourists ('summer people') come
  • Fisherman are seenas independent and strong - 'Yankee' values, compared to the consumer-oriented 'summer people'
  • Younger speakers were sounding less like typical New Englishmen and more like the fishermen
    • Mainly 31->45-year-old men who:
      • Wanted to be seen as Vineyarders
      • Rejected the mainland's values
      • Resented the 'summer people's' presence
  • This change seemed to be subconscious
  • The innovation gradually became the norm
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Accommodation Theory

Howard Giles - 1973

  • People will sometimes try to make their language resemble that of their audience
  • This is done to improve communication
  • It is called 'linguistic accomodation'
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Matched-Guise Approach

Howard Giles - 1970s

  • The matched-guise approach is a way of studying perceptions of accents (coined by Lambert in 1960)
    • The same speaker says the same thing with a variety of accents
    • Subjects then pass judgement on the speaker
    • The only independent variable is the accent
  • Death penalty speech
    • British teenagers heard the same speech arguing against the death penalty in different accents
    • The argument was valued more when given using a more prestigious accent
    • After a week, the only speech that changed perspectives was the one using a Birmingham accent
  • Psychology speech
    • Two groups of 17-year-olds heard the same speech
      • One used a Birmingham accent
      • One used an RP accent
    • The RP speech was rated higher in both competence and intelligence
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Judgements on Students

Choy and Dodd - 1976

  • Teachers make judgements on students' abilites and personalities based on how they speak
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Opinions on RP and Working-Class Accents

Peter Trudgill - 2000

  • Non-RP speakers assume that RP speakers are 'haughty and unfriendly', until proven otherwise
  • Children with working-class accents may be seen by their teachers as having less education potential than their middle-class peers, until they can prove otherwise
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Dialect Levelling

Paul Kerswill - 2001

  • Increasing social mobility has led to the 'consequent breakdown of tight-knit working-class communities'
  • Dialect levelling and standardisation have been caused by:
    • Movement of people, leading to greater dialectal contact
    • Movement of people, leading to radical change in social networks, which now encompass more strangers
    • More social mobility
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Accent and Perceived Guilt

Dixon, Mahoney, and ***** - 2002

  • Subjects listened to a dialogue between a police officer and a suspect
  • Used the matched-guise approach, with a Birmingham accent as the non-standard form
  • The suspect was seen as significantly more guilty when speaking with the Birmingham accent
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Neulip and Speten-Hansen - 2013

  • Used the matched-guise approach to examine links between ethnocentrism (seeing one's own culture as 'the norm', and any others as 'abnormal') and perceptions of 'non-native' accents
  • Two groups watched the same male speaker
    • He was dressed the same, in the same place, said the same things, and used the same elements of body language
    • In one video, he used an American accent
    • In another, he used a non-native accent with 'no detectable regional, ethnic, or national associations'
  • Those who, in a prior survey, gave answers indicating an ethnocentric attitude gave the non-native speaker lower ratings on credibilty, attractiveness, and similarity to the subject
  • How a non-native speaker is perceived can depend on the ethnocentricity of the person they are speaking to
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Various Polls

  • The Sun - the Geordie accent is the 'sexiest'
  • The Daily Mail - cabin crew from Liverpool have the friendliest accent
  • The Daily Telegraph -
    • Pilots with London accents are the least reassuring
    • Business executives admitted to having doubts about hiring someone with a working-class Essex accnt
    • The Birmingham accent is the least 'cool'
  • Sitel - the Geordie accent is the friendliest and the most likely to put you in a 'good mood', as well as being amongst the top five for trustworthiness, helpfulness, and efficiency
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