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Perceiving Identity through Accent

Attitudes towards Non-Native Speakers and their Accents in English

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Bettina Beinhoff

Given the increasing use of English worldwide and in intercultural communication, there is a growing interest in attitudes towards non-native speaker accents in English. Research on attitudes towards non-native English accents is therefore important because of concerns about positive and negative discrimination between people who speak with different accents. This book reveals exactly what types of accent variations trigger positive and negative attitudes towards the speaker.
The author argues that certain types of variation in the pronunciation of English can have a significant effect on how listeners identify an accent and explores how this variation affects the development of certain attitudes towards the speaker. Specific sounds that are difficult for many learners to acquire (e.g. the initial sounds in ‘this’ or ‘June’) are examined in terms of attitudes towards speakers’ pronunciation, including an original comparison of two different kinds of non-native accents (German and Greek). The results of the study provide a basis for further research in second language acquisition and applied linguistics as well as practical information for language instructors at all levels of English education.