Native Dutch listeners’ attitudes towards and understanding of Moroccan-flavored Dutch-accented speakers and the predictive effects of listeners’ personality traits.

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Native listeners often more negatively evaluate nonstandard-accented speakers in terms of competence and status, however, not necessarily when it comes to dynamism and likeability. Traditional accentedness studies have mainly focused on nonstandard-accented speakers’ speech characteristics as the cause of listeners’ attitudinal evaluations and understanding. However, listeners’ personality traits have also been shown to influence their evaluations of nonstandard-accented speech. Therefore, in a within-subjects experimental (verbal-guise) design, the present study examined how a Moroccan-flavored Dutch (MFD) vs. a standard Dutch (SD)-accented speaker was evaluated by native Dutch listeners in terms of attitudes (competence, status, likeability, dynamism) and understanding (perceived comprehensibility, intelligibility). In addition, this study measured the predictive effects of listeners’ personality traits on their attitudes towards and understanding of the MFD-accented speaker. Findings showed that the MFD-accented speaker was similarly evaluated as the SD-accented speaker on all attitudinal constructs. Meaning that native Dutch listeners do not necessarily downgrade MFD-accented speakers in terms of attitudes. However, Dutch listeners did perceive the MFD-accented speaker to be significantly less comprehensible than the SD-accented speaker, even though their actual intelligibility did not seem to be affected. This indicates that if the goal of communication is to successfully convey information, the MFD accent seems like a viable option. Furthermore, listeners with high scores on emotionality (anxious, sentimental, fearful) were more likely to assign harsher perceived comprehensibility scores to the MFD-accented speaker, highlighting the importance of the role of listeners’ personality (traits) in the speech evaluation process. However, in view of the limitations, more research might be needed to confirm the present study’s findings.
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