Lab Report 3

Introduction and Hypothesis

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Research has consistently proven
that assumptions are made on the basis of one’s accent; the tendency being that
the accent links us to specific social groups with stereotypical associations.
Thus individuals tend to often produce phonetic variables in socially
meaningful ways. We have our ambient language; we gain our dialect from our L1,
but our style is what builds upon it to add variation to it and that is how we
perform our social identity. The question must be addressed as to
whether these stereotypes persist across different speakers with different
dialects.

 Perception of regional accents along with
reactions to Received Pronunciation (RP), the accent associated with upper
class speakers have been specifically researched. This report analyses
the results of a speech perception experiment, produced and carried out in an
attempt to test peoples’ attitudes towards various accents of English, namely
in terms of social attractiveness (i.e. politeness, amiability and honesty) and
prestige (intelligence, job competence). This experiment provides an example of
a matched-guise technique, that is to say an ‘indirect method of eliciting
language attitudes that involves the experimental investigation of speech
perception.’ (Kircher, 2016).

Throughout the century the term ‘Received Pronunciation’ has
become a general term which describes the alleged most ‘prestigious’ style of
British pronunciation. I predict the unanimous response among participants to
indicate a strong association between RP and prestige level, as well as a
lack(?) of social attractiveness. That is, I expect participants’ ratings of RP
in terms of job competence and intelligence to score higher than those of the
other selected accents. I also expect gender and origin of participants but
specifically native language to have a strong influence in perceived prestige
and social attractiveness in the selected accents of English.

Methodology

The data for this task comprises four recordings of ‘the
North Wind and the Sun’, read and spoken by the same male (to avoid listeners’
stereotyping based on preconceived notions of the person) in i) a general
American accent (New York), ii) a British English RP accent, iii) a Scottish
accent (Glasgow) and iiii) a Southern American accent (Georgia). Using both
English and American varieties accounted for the fact that non-native speakers
are generally more regularly exposed to American accents,  make it easier to determine whether native
language plays a role in perc… For this same reason, voice recordings rather
than video recordings were used to avoid visual perception. Why British/American English? Why this
variety? 20 participants were selected; 10 males, of which half possessed
English as a native language and half non-native and 10 females; half
non-native and half native. One fundamental aim of this experiment, in the
context of the hypothesis was to measure the extent to which listeners with little
experience with listening to native speakers of English still use social
knowledge systematically during perception and to compare this performance to
that of more experience listeners. According to ___, individuals can (not
necessarily consciously) use knowledge of sociolinguistic variab­­les during
speech perception. Their origin can thus play a role in how they perceive
sounds, depending on the amount of previous experience with other dialects;
according to Clopper and Pisoni (2006). 
In order then to determine whether a link exists between social factors
and variation in perception, participants of various native language and
geographic location were selected. As my hypothesis focuses primarily on native
language and gender, I decided to choose participants of a similar age in order
to maintain consistency, as too many variables would’ve complicated things.

Participants were given a paper response sheet, on which
they were asked to fill in their details (age, origin, gender and native
language) and (having listened to each accent) to rate them on a scale of one
to six (one being low and 6 being high) based on the following six traits;
intelligence, friendliness, job competence, honesty, arrogance and amiability.
The values were then transferred to an Excel document in order to produce four
individual graphs indicating the average response of the four groups of
participant according to each trait, as well as an additional graph to indicate
the breakdown of trait in terms of the highest and lowest (combined) values of
participants. This graph would facilitate discussion of the general response
among participants in relation to my hypothesis and determination of whether
the variables appear to be correlated.

Results and Discussion

As seen in the above graph, participants generally rated
this variety as particularly arrogant and of a low social status

 

i)                   
Rating of Prestige

Results suggest a degree of bias
based on preconceived notions of the variation; these were totally unrelated to
the true traits of the speaker, evident by the use of the same speaker. In
relation to my hypothesis, gender does not appear to influence perception, as
seen in the ratings on the four individual graphs which appear to be quite
similar among male and female for each trait. There does however seem to exist
a difference in perception with regards to native language.

 

 

 

ii)                  
Rating of Social Attractiveness

RP was rated most highly for intelligence, and low for
social attractiveness, where the Scottish accent scored higher on social
attractiveness and not so much for intelligence. Interestingly, in-group
loyalty was shown by the fact that one Scottish participant rated her own
variety as the highest.

 

 

Conclusion

Other variants should be considered, for example gender of
speaker, pitch, intonation, and speed. This could therefore not be a true
reflection of ratings of intelligence only. Fast speech, for example is
generally perceived to have connotations of intelligence and ambition, whereas
slow speech is more oftenLab Report 3

Introduction and Hypothesis

Research has consistently proven
that assumptions are made on the basis of one’s accent; the tendency being that
the accent links us to specific social groups with stereotypical associations.
Thus individuals tend to often produce phonetic variables in socially
meaningful ways. We have our ambient language; we gain our dialect from our L1,
but our style is what builds upon it to add variation to it and that is how we
perform our social identity. The question must be addressed as to
whether these stereotypes persist across different speakers with different
dialects.

 Perception of regional accents along with
reactions to Received Pronunciation (RP), the accent associated with upper
class speakers have been specifically researched. This report analyses
the results of a speech perception experiment, produced and carried out in an
attempt to test peoples’ attitudes towards various accents of English, namely
in terms of social attractiveness (i.e. politeness, amiability and honesty) and
prestige (intelligence, job competence). This experiment provides an example of
a matched-guise technique, that is to say an ‘indirect method of eliciting
language attitudes that involves the experimental investigation of speech
perception.’ (Kircher, 2016).

Throughout the century the term ‘Received Pronunciation’ has
become a general term which describes the alleged most ‘prestigious’ style of
British pronunciation. I predict the unanimous response among participants to
indicate a strong association between RP and prestige level, as well as a
lack(?) of social attractiveness. That is, I expect participants’ ratings of RP
in terms of job competence and intelligence to score higher than those of the
other selected accents. I also expect gender and origin of participants but
specifically native language to have a strong influence in perceived prestige
and social attractiveness in the selected accents of English.

Methodology

The data for this task comprises four recordings of ‘the
North Wind and the Sun’, read and spoken by the same male (to avoid listeners’
stereotyping based on preconceived notions of the person) in i) a general
American accent (New York), ii) a British English RP accent, iii) a Scottish
accent (Glasgow) and iiii) a Southern American accent (Georgia). Using both
English and American varieties accounted for the fact that non-native speakers
are generally more regularly exposed to American accents,  make it easier to determine whether native
language plays a role in perc… For this same reason, voice recordings rather
than video recordings were used to avoid visual perception. Why British/American English? Why this
variety? 20 participants were selected; 10 males, of which half possessed
English as a native language and half non-native and 10 females; half
non-native and half native. One fundamental aim of this experiment, in the
context of the hypothesis was to measure the extent to which listeners with little
experience with listening to native speakers of English still use social
knowledge systematically during perception and to compare this performance to
that of more experience listeners. According to ___, individuals can (not
necessarily consciously) use knowledge of sociolinguistic variab­­les during
speech perception. Their origin can thus play a role in how they perceive
sounds, depending on the amount of previous experience with other dialects;
according to Clopper and Pisoni (2006). 
In order then to determine whether a link exists between social factors
and variation in perception, participants of various native language and
geographic location were selected. As my hypothesis focuses primarily on native
language and gender, I decided to choose participants of a similar age in order
to maintain consistency, as too many variables would’ve complicated things.

Participants were given a paper response sheet, on which
they were asked to fill in their details (age, origin, gender and native
language) and (having listened to each accent) to rate them on a scale of one
to six (one being low and 6 being high) based on the following six traits;
intelligence, friendliness, job competence, honesty, arrogance and amiability.
The values were then transferred to an Excel document in order to produce four
individual graphs indicating the average response of the four groups of
participant according to each trait, as well as an additional graph to indicate
the breakdown of trait in terms of the highest and lowest (combined) values of
participants. This graph would facilitate discussion of the general response
among participants in relation to my hypothesis and determination of whether
the variables appear to be correlated.

Results and Discussion

As seen in the above graph, participants generally rated
this variety as particularly arrogant and of a low social status

 

i)                   
Rating of Prestige

Results suggest a degree of bias
based on preconceived notions of the variation; these were totally unrelated to
the true traits of the speaker, evident by the use of the same speaker. In
relation to my hypothesis, gender does not appear to influence perception, as
seen in the ratings on the four individual graphs which appear to be quite
similar among male and female for each trait. There does however seem to exist
a difference in perception with regards to native language.

 

 

 

ii)                  
Rating of Social Attractiveness

RP was rated most highly for intelligence, and low for
social attractiveness, where the Scottish accent scored higher on social
attractiveness and not so much for intelligence. Interestingly, in-group
loyalty was shown by the fact that one Scottish participant rated her own
variety as the highest.

 

 

Conclusion

Other variants should be considered, for example gender of
speaker, pitch, intonation, and speed. This could therefore not be a true
reflection of ratings of intelligence only. Fast speech, for example is
generally perceived to have connotations of intelligence and ambition, whereas
slow speech is more often linked to kindness, dependability and politeness. linked to kindness, dependability and politeness.