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The role of native language in attitudes toward and perceptions of non-native and native American English speech

Chu, Claire C. (2018) The role of native language in attitudes toward and perceptions of non-native and native American English speech. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The present study examined the effect of native language on attitudes and perceptions of accent in English to inform the development of a future intervention in Chinese-accented English. Most research in accented speech has focused on the native speakers’ perspectives (Gluszek & Dovidio, 2010), but the novelty of this study lies in its consideration of non-native speakers’ perspectives as well. Specifically, this study compared the perceived approachability and identity of speakers of Chinese-accented English and Standard American English by both Chinese native speakers (NS) and English NS. Moreover, it examined how these two groups of speakers perceived some linguistic traits that Chinese learners of English have difficulty producing natively. These included deaccentuation and the contrasts between [p] and [b], between [i] and [ɪ], and between modified nouns (blue bird) and compounds (bluebird). To do this, speech samples representing a range of accentedness were recorded from Chinese speakers of English and English NS telling a short story based on a pictorial sequence. These speakers also read sentences designed to elicit the target linguistic traits. The speech samples were included in questionnaires created to collect participants’ ratings of the accentedness, intelligibility, approachability, and identity of the story samples, and to examine participants’ perceptions of the linguistic traits used in the sentences. In addition, the participants were interviewed about their experiences interacting with people from different cultures.

The results show that accentedness is important in constructing identity, but approachability is more clearly predicted by intelligibility than accentedness. In addition, Chinese NS have greater difficulty identifying suprasegmental traits than segmental traits, whereas English NS identify both types of traits quite accurately. These trends will guide the development of future interventions that increase the approachability of members of the two language groups to each other, encouraging social contact across cultural boundaries. Such interventions, applied across many languages, may improve interactions among people from different language backgrounds and lead to greater empathy among cultural groups.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Chu, Claire C.ccc47@pitt.educcc470000-0002-1735-5137
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairOrtega-Llebaria, Martamao61@pitt.edumao61
Committee MemberDemmans Epp,
Committee MemberTokowicz,
Perfetti, Charles
Date: 23 April 2018
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 6 April 2018
Approval Date: 23 April 2018
Submission Date: 11 April 2018
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 64
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: David C. Frederick Honors College
Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: accentedness, intelligibility, L1 influence, Chinese accent
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2018 19:54
Last Modified: 23 Apr 2023 05:15


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