Recent language attitude research has attended to the processes involved in identifying and evaluating spoken language varieties. This article investigates the ability of second-language learners of English in Spain (N = 71) to identify Received Pronunciation (RP) and General American (GenAm) speech and their perceptions of linguistic variation between these speech varieties. Data were gathered using a verbal-guise experiment in which respondents identified speakers’ places of origin and stated the reasons for their categorisations. Quantitative data analysis demonstrated high recognition rates for RP speakers, more often correctly identified than GenAm speakers. Qualitative data analysis showed that respondents’ knowledge of phonological variation informed the identification process and they often stated which linguistic features formed part of their mental representations of RP and GenAm. Additional resources informed accent recognition, including perceived linguistic quality, intelligibility, familiarity, and cultural associations. Patterns of misidentification revealed that, when GenAm was inaccurately identified as RP, it was ascribed high status. The findings provide an insight into the strategies, conceptual frameworks, and linguistic features which inform the accent identification process as performed by English-language learners in Spain. The results also highlight the usefulness of variety recognition items in interpreting attitudinal evaluations, especially with regard to patterns of misidentification.
|Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
|Early online date
|20 Oct 2017
|Published - 2018