PLM2009 Workshop session: Attitudes towards sociophonetic variation

The original thrust of research into attitudes towards accent variation focussed on the relation between sociophonetic variation and perceptions of individual traits such as social status, intelligence, reliability, etc. With time, a wider range of topics came to be investigated, ranging from the influence of accent attitudes on housing decisions (Purnell et al. 1999) to the interaction between speech “accentedness” and acceptance of voice user interfaces (Niculescu et al. 2008) to the role accent plays in children’s social preferences (Kinzler et al. in press).

However, there are issues that certainly deserve further study. What kinds of speech stimuli should be used? How to express the correlations between phonetic variation and the attitudinal data? How to quantify phonetic variation and attitudes in the first place? Do accent attitudes “matter” at all?

The present workshop aims to provide scholars interested in all of the subfields of accent attitude research a forum for an exchange of research results on existing and new topics, as well as for a discussion of methodological issues.

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Methodologies of accent attitude research;
  • The role of (the perception of) phonetic detail in accent evaluation;
  • Attitudes to “foreign” accents;
  • Accent attitudes in non-native respondents;
  • Impact of accent attitudes on foreign language teaching;
  • “Folk linguistic” aspects of accent attitudes;
  • Interaction between phonetic variation and cultural stereotypes;
  • Use of accent for stereotyping in the media (e.g. films, etc.);
  • Interaction between accent attitudes and various social and psychological phenomena (e.g. construction of identity, social discrimination, etc.).

Selected bibliography

  • Bayard, Donn – Ann Weatherall – Cynthia Gallois – Jeffery Pittam. 2001. “Pax Americana? Accent attitudinal evaluations in New Zealand, Australia and America”, Journal of Sociolinguistics 5(1), 22–49.
  • Clopper, Cynthia G. – David B. Pisoni. 2004. “Some acoustic cues for the perceptual categorization of American English regional dialects”, Journal of Phonetics 32, 111–140.
  • Doel, Rias van den. 2006. How friendly are the natives? An evaluation of native-speaker judgements of foreign-accented British and American English. Utrecht: LOT.
  • Garrett, Peter – Nikolas Coupland – Angie Williams, A. 2003. Investigating language attitudes: Social meanings of dialect, ethnicity, and performance. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.
  • Gooskens, Charlotte – Wilbert Heeringa. 2004. “Perceptive evaluation of Levenshtein dialect distance measurements using Norwegian dialect data”, Language Variation and Change 16, 189–207.
  • Grondelaers, Stefan – Roeland van Hout. 2008. “Non-circular evaluative scales and spontaneous stimuli: Measuring accent attitudes in the Dutch language area”. Paper presented at the 37th New Ways of Analysing Variation conference (NWAV37), Houston, TX.
  • Jenkins, Jennifer. 2007. English as a Lingua Franca: Attitude and identity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Kinzler, Katherine D. – Kristin Shutts – Jasmine DeJesus – Elizabeth S. Spelke. In press. “Accent trumps race in guiding children’s social preferences”. Social Cognition.
  • Ladegaard, Hans J. 1998. “National stereotypes and language attitudes: The perception of British, American and Australian language and culture in Denmark”, Language and Communication 18, 251–274.
  • Lippi-Green, Rosina. 1997. English with an accent: Language, ideology and discrimination in the United States. London: Routledge.
  • Niculescu, Andrea – George M. White – See Swee Lan – Ratna Utari Waloejo – Yoko Kawaguchi. 2008. “Impact of English regional accents on user acceptance of voice user interfaces”, in: Agneta Gulz et al. (eds.), NordiCHI 2008: Building bridges. Proceedings 5th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, Lund, Sweden, 523–526.
  • Niedzielski, Nancy – Dennis Preston. 2000. Folk linguistics. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Preston, Dennis – Robert Bayley. 1996. Second language acquisition and linguistic variation. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
  • Preston, Dennis – Bartłomiej Plichta. 2005. “The /ay/s have it: The perception of /ay/ as a North-South stereotype in US English”, Acta Linguistica Hafniensia 37, 107–130.
  • Purnell, Thomas – William Idsardi – John Baugh. 1999. “Perceptual and phonetic experiments on American English dialect identification”, Journal of Language and Social Psychology 18(1), 10–30.

Session organiser

  • Jaroslaw Weckwerth (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań), email: wjarek <at>

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Abstract submission procedure

Please follow the general submission guidelines but send your abstract directly to the session organiser.