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A Study of Singaporeans’ Attitudes to Eleven Expanding Circle Accents of English

By Abdel Halim Sykes

Abstract

Effective communication in English between its two billion users (Crystal, 2008), requires comprehension of others’ English and a willingness to accept differences in English. While some studies have attempted to measure the attitudes of Inner Circle (IC) (Kachru, 1985) respondents towards IC Englishes, and other studies have focused on attitudes of Outer Circle (OC) and Expanding Circle (EC) respondents to IC English, there is a dearth of research on OC and EC respondents’ attitudes to non-IC English. Therefore, this study addressed the need for further research focusing on OC respondents’ attitudes to EC users’ English. Specifically, this study of 31 Singaporeans attempted to gain an understanding of their attitudes towards Expanding Circle Accents of English (ECAE).\ud This study drew on direct and indirect approaches in language attitude research, involving a verbal-guise task using semantic differential scales to elicit attitudes to speakers on a range of solidarity and status traits, and interviews.\ud Descriptive statistics derived from mean scores were used for quantitative analysis of the data from the verbal-guise task, while coding procedures were used for qualitative analysis of the interview data. The findings show the respondents displayed predominantly negative attitudes to eight of the eleven ECAE and slightly positive attitudes to three. Phonological features common to the ECAE, notably mispronunciation of particular phonemes and vowels added to consonant clusters, affected the respondents’ attitudes. Moreover, certain prosodic features and the perceived degree of attractiveness and assertiveness affected attitudes to the ECAE.\ud These findings indicate accent can affect listeners’ attitude to speakers. The implications of this study have relevance to the discussions on World Englishes and\ud English as an International Language to the extent that notions of attitude and intelligibility are central to both. Furthermore, the findings suggest attitude might be of greater significance than intelligibility when evaluating others’ English

Topics: accent, Expanding Circle, language attitude, Outer Circle, varieties of English
Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2011
OAI identifier: oai:lra.le.ac.uk:2381/9627

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