The effects of accentedness on employability: Dutch and German listeners' evaluations of Spanish-accented and Arabic-accented English.

Thumbnail Image
Issue Date
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The increase in cross-cultural communication has led to a growing number of people using non-native languages at workplaces. This raises a question of whether non-native accents have an impact on an individual’s career. Potential outcomes may be discrimination, feelings of being devalued and limited career advancement. The present study aims to gain insight into the impact of accents on the careers of speakers. Dutch and German participants evaluated speech samples in Spanish-, Arabic-, or Standard British-accented English in terms of speaker employability, comprehension and attitude towards the speaker. In the experiment, 211 Dutch and German participants evaluated one speech sample in one of the accents. Findings showed that speakers with Arabic-accented English were evaluated less positively in terms of employability, status and dynamism than speakers with Spanish-accented English or speakers with a Standard British accent. The speakers with a Spanish accent were evaluated less comprehensible than the speakers with an Arabic or a Standard British accent. The findings indicate that the accent of a speaker does have an impact on employability, comprehensibility and attitudes towards the speaker, and that different accents evoke different reactions in listeners.
Faculteit der Letteren