The influence of Language Proficiency on the Evaluations of Non-standard Accented English and Standard Accented English.

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The current study investigated the influence of language proficiency on the evaluation of standard and non-standard accents. The Social Identity Theory (SIT) is an underlying mental process that is often considered in the evaluation of accents. It suggests that a non-standard accent evokes a perception that the speaker belongs to a certain social group, creating a bias towards the non-standard accent. Several studies have investigated this accent bias in multiple contexts, where contradictory effects of the SIT were found. Therefore, the present study aimed to gain new insights in the existing bias through considering language proficiency, because it is related to non-native accented speech and speaker evaluations. An experiment was conducted to measure the influence of language proficiency on speech understandability (perceived comprehensibility) and speaker evaluations (status, dynamism, solidarity, hirability). Dutch listeners (N = 125) were asked to evaluate two accents (moderate Dutch-accented English and standard British English) in a job interview. The language proficiency was measured with a LexTALE test and the perceived language proficiency of the listener. The results suggest that the SIT is not present when considering language proficiency and accent evaluations. This has given the implication that other attributions of accent evaluations are considered in the perception of the listener. These implications are further explored and explained in the current study, where it proposes to extend the measurements of the SIT.
Faculteit der Letteren