Between linguistics and social psychology of language: the perception of non-native accents

Silvia Calamai


Listeners can make several attitudinal judgments about a speaker based only on his/her speech. In many cases these judgments are in line with social stereotypes which are associated with the group that is represented by a certain language variety. The matched- and verbal-guise techniques have been extensively used in the studies of language attitudes, in order to obtain reliable results on language as a marker of group identity. This paper presents a concise state-of-the art of research focusing on language attitudes, with particular attention to Italian, and provides grounds for methodological reflection through the discussion of a pilot study conducted by the author focusing on differences in how Standard Italian and three varieties of foreign accented speech (Albanian, Romanian and General American) are perceived by a sample of 97 high school students in a medium-sized city in central Italy.


non-native accents; verbal guise techniques; stereotypes

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