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‘Neutral, native-like or authentic’: Investigating attitudes and beliefs of expanding circle speakers of English
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The status of English as the language of international communication is by now well-established. However, in the past 16 years, research has tried to emphasize the fact that the English spoken in international contact situations and between people with other first languages than English has different needs than the English spoken locally amongst native speakers, resulting in the emergence of English as a lingua franca (ELF) as a scholarly field. However, the impact of findings in ELF has so far only led to a moderate shift in English language teaching. Especially in expanding circle countries, where ELF should have the biggest impact, change is only gradually becoming palpable.

Accent and pronunciation, as one of the biggest factors on both identity and mutual intelligibility (Jenkins 2000; 2007) are at the root of discussion. The scope of this study is therefore to examine accent choices and the extent to which native speaker ideology informs the preferences of ten speakers of ELF and 27 German natives with experience in international communication. Both ethnographical and sociolinguistic methods, as well as auditory analysis have been applied and conducted. The auditory analysis of six variables in the recorded speech production of the ten speakers suggests that there is no significant preference of one norm-giving variety over the other. Rather, speakers tend to mix-and-match General American- and Standard Southern British English-like features in their pronunciation. When reporting their accent ideals, the idea of a ‘neutral’ English accent is mentioned by four participants. Neutral accents seem to have been understood as ‘unmarked accents’. Expressed beliefs on their own English pronunciation show a comparatively high level of reflection on and confidence in their own production. Results from a rating task and a survey given to 27 German participants reveal attitudes that are more negatively stacked. While Germans reported openness towards NNS (non-native speaker) accents and showed awareness of the priority of intelligibility over accent choice in both their own and others’ pronunciation, they still largely reported NS accent preference. The ratings of the production from ten ELF speakers confirmed this and showed that ‘neutral’ is equated with native-like. In the light of these findings, issues are discussed that ultimately relate to the influence of NS Englishes, identity and the development of English as an international language.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 43 p.
Keyword [en]
accent, expanding circle, language attitude, varieties of English, sociolinguistics, ELF, language ideology, identity, Germany
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-131390OAI: diva2:938299
Available from: 2016-06-22 Created: 2016-06-16 Last updated: 2016-06-22Bibliographically approved

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Melchien, Bianca
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