British accent perceptions and attributions of guilt by native and non-native speakers
Keywords:accent, guilt, language attitudes, forensic linguistics
This paper uses the matched-guise technique to analyse the impact of accent perception in the context of suspect interrogation. Three native speakers of British English and one of Norwegian recorded a suspect’s statement in a version as close as possible to standard English as well as in their strongest accented pronunciation of English. These recordings were rated by native speakers of English (NSs) and German learners of English (non-native speakers, NNSs) regarding competence, social attractiveness, credibility/guilt and standardness. Qualitative and quantitative analysis of these ratings shows evidence for accented speakers being rated less competent, but more socially attractive and more likely to be guilty than their standard counterparts. Moreover, NNSs’ ratings were significantly higher for competence and guilt in the standard guises, as well as social attractiveness and guilt in the accent guises, while NSs twice as often reported pronunciation/accent having influenced their ratings. This study also found that specific regional stereotypes were less important compared to the perceived degree of standardness.
Boucher, C. J. (2013) Perceptions of competency as a function of accent. Psi Chi Journal 18(1): 27–32. https://doi.org/10.24839/2164-8204.JN18.1.27
Coupland, N., Bishop, H., Williams, A., Evans, B. and Garrett, P. (2005) Affiliation, engagement, language use and vitality: secondary school students’ subjective orientations to Welsh and Welshness. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism 8(1): 1–24. https://doi.org/10.1080/jBEB.v8.i1.pg1
Dixon, J. A. and Mahoney, B. (2004) The effect of accent evaluation and evidence on a suspect’s perceived guilt and criminality. Journal of Social Psychology 144(1): 63–73. https://doi.org/10.3200/SOCP.144.1.63-73
Dixon, J. A., Mahoney, B. and Cocks, R. (2002) Accents of guilt? Effects of regional accent, race, and crime type on attributions of guilt. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 21(2): 162–8. https://doi.org/10.1177/02627X02021002004
Edwards, J. R. (1982) Language attitudes and their implications among English speakers. In E. B. Ryan and H. Giles (eds) Attitudes Towards Language Variation 20–33. London: Edward Arnold.
Foon, A. E. (1986) A social structural approach to speech evaluation. Journal of Social Psychology 126(4): 521–30. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224545.1986.9713620
Fuertes, J. N. (2012) A meta?analysis of the effects of speakers’ accents on interpersonal evaluations. European Journal of Social Psychology 42(1): 120–33. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.862
Garrett, P., Bishop, H. and Coupland, N. (2009) Diasporic ethnolinguistic subjectivities: Patagonia, North America, and Wales. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 2009(195): 173–99. https://doi.org/10.1515/IJSL.2009.010
Giles, H. (1970) Evaluative reactions to accents. Educational Review 22(3): 211–27. https://doi.org/10.1080/0013191700220301
Giles, H. and Billings, A. C. (2004) Assessing language attitudes: speaker evaluation studies. In A. Davies and C. Elder (eds) The Handbook of Applied Linguistics 187–209. https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470757000.ch7
Hill, S. R. and Tombs, A. (2011) The effect of accent of service employee on customer service evaluation. Managing Service Quality: An International Journal 21(6): 649–66. https://doi.org/10.1108/09604521111185637
Kalin, R. (1982) The social significance of speech in medical, legal and occupational settings. In E. B. Ryan and H. Giles (eds) Attitudes Towards Language Variation 148–63. London: Arnold.
Lambert, W. E., Hodgson, R. C., Gardner, R. C. and Fillenbaum, S. (1960) Evaluational reactions to spoken languages. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 60(1): 44–51. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0044430
Lippi-Green, R. (1994) Accent, standard language ideology, and discriminatory pretext in the courts. Language in Society 23: 163–98. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404500017826
Mardijono, J. (2005) English accent evaluation: a study on Indonesian EFL learners’ perception. [email protected] 5(2): 147–64. https://doi.org/10.9744/kata.5.2.147-164
Matsuda, M. J. (1991) Voices of America: accent, antidiscrimination law, and a jurisprudence for the last reconstruction. Yale Law Journal 100(5): 1329–407. https://doi.org/10.2307/796694
Raki?, T., Steffens, M. C. and Mummendey, A. (2011) Blinded by the accent! The minor role of looks in ethnic categorization. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 100(1): 16–29. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0021522
Ryan, E. B., Giles, H. and Sebastian, R. J. (1982) An integrative perspective for the study of attitudes toward language variation. In E. B. Ryan and H. Giles (eds) Attitudes Towards Language Variation 1–19. London: Edward Arnold.
Scales, J., Wennerstorm, A., Richard, D. and Wu, S. H. (2006) Language learners’ perceptions of accent. TESOL Quarterly 40(4): 715–38. https://doi.org/10.2307/40264305
Seggie, I. (1983) Attribution of guilt as a function of ethnic accent and type of crime. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 4(2/3): 197–206. https://doi.org/10.1080/01434632.1983.9994111
Seggie, I., Fulmizi, C. and Stewart, J. (1982) Evaluations of personality traits and employment suitability based on various Australian accents. Australian Journal of Psychology 34(3): 345–57. https://doi.org/10.1080/00049538208254729
Sullivan, G. C. (2016) In your own words: investigating voice, intertextuality, and credibility of Rachel Jeantel in the George Zimmerman trial. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 1(13): 1–15. https://doi.org/10.3765/plsa
Tompkinson, J. (2015) Accent evaluation and the perception of spoken threats. Unpublished MSc dissertation. University of York, UK.
Torre, I., Goslin, J. and White, L. (2015) Investing in accents: how does experience mediate trust attributions to different voices? Conference paper. The Scottish Consortium for the International Conference of Phonetic Sciences, Glasgow, UK. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ilaria_Torre2/publication/303838154_Investing_in_accents_How_does_experience_mediate_trust_attributions_to_different_voices/links/57570a2308ae04a1b6b68c95.pdf
Waniek-Klimczak, E. and Shockey, L. R. (2013) Teaching and Researching English Accents in Native and Non-native Speakers. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-24019-5
Wells, J. C. (1970) Local accents in England and Wales. Journal of Linguistics 6(2): 231–52. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022226700002632
How to Cite
© Equinox Publishing Ltd.
For information regarding our Open Access policy, click here.