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How much of emotional influence do accents have on people's perception of one another?

 
 
Reply Sat 8 Jun, 2013 02:46 pm
Hey, I am new to the forum and hope to learn something here. Also, bouncing of ideas on other philosophers is a great hobby of mine. I am not a native english speaker ( I am dutch) so excuse the seeming errors, bad grammar and quorkyness.

I have been thinking about an experiment in wich different people hear the same english words, -with maybe some emotional load to it (accusative, apologetic, maybe questions)- but in different accents. Would the people perceive and react to these differently because of the accents? I can't think as quickly of a solid experiment that would (dis)prove a proposition like this. Because there are so many factors playing a finely tuned role. What are your ideas on this?



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Type: Question • Score: 13 • Views: 3,981 • Replies: 52

 
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Jun, 2013 08:09 pm
@Manke Nelis,
Welcome Manke Nelis.

I'd say that accents are very significant in how people appraise others.
Manke Nelis
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Jun, 2013 09:24 pm
@JTT,
Yes it's simple like that, huh?...
Guess it's kinda like asking if people would react differently to 'skincolour' isn't it? I am still curious about the specific effect of a particular accent tho. The difference between english and american is very interesting to me for example. If someone knows any research done on this please enlighten me with it!
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  2  
Reply Sun 9 Jun, 2013 12:28 am
@Manke Nelis,
Welcome to a2k.

Language performance is possibly the major manifestation of cognitive style and self identity. In terms of "data processing economy " humans of necessity operate according to "perceptual set" which predisposes us to "significant data", some of which can be labelled "emotional". Intelligence is often displayed by those who have the ability to "change register" (i.e. modify their accent or dialect) in order to manipulate a social relationship. This control is epitomised in the extreme by dominant cultures which try to preclude native language use by minorities. (e.g. the English suppression of Welsh). In general, social stratification is directly indicated and sustained by language and dialect, and in some cultures extends to gender differentiation. (Note for example "camp language" adopted by female impersonators).

So the question you ask about "how much...?" can only be answered in terms of "how far do you want to dig" ! (See for example David Crystal's "Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language" for numerous angles on this).
For particular experimentation, I suggest you refer to professional journals such as those with "psycholinguistics" in their title e.g.
http://www.springer.com/psychology/journal/10936
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Sun 9 Jun, 2013 02:25 am
There remains, one hundred and fifty years after the American civil war, a very huge divide between northerners and southerners based on how they speak the language. I was sitting in a friend's apartment in Ohio once, more than 20 years ago, and we were watching some nature program. There was an expert being interviewed on the topic of the animals being discussed (i don't recall what animals specifically) when my friend casually stated that although he knew this man to be intelligent and well-educated, he couldn't overcome his natural prejudice that anyone who talked like that was an ignorant redneck (the man had a very thick coastal Carolina accent). Accents certainly do play a significant role in social perceptions. Until quite recently, when anyone in England opened his or her mouth and spoke, he or she branded him- or herself in terms of social class and local origin, and very unfairly, in terms of education. When i wrote something similar here a year or two ago, one of our English members stated that that is still true in England.
saab
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Jun, 2013 03:06 am
@Manke Nelis,
Of course an accent or dialect do influence you. We know from film and comedies that a certain accent or dialect supposedly will tell that the person is stupid, naiv,less educated than someone else. I think that is true in most countries.
A person speaking with French accent is supposedly more charmy than a peson speaking with Russian accent.

I was once sitting at a waterfront cafe at the Garda Lake. I started to watch peopleĀ“s gesture, how they moved their heads and hands and tried to guess if one can tell what country they are from without hearing what they said.
I watched people sitting by the waterfront, then got up and walked over to look at the water and listening to which language. Most of the time I guessed correct. There were Italians, Germans, Danes, Brits and Americans.

It is not just the dialect in our own language, but also the accent when speaking a foreign language and the body language and the words used, which influence our perception.
0 Replies
 
contrex
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Jun, 2013 03:24 am
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:
Until quite recently, when anyone in England opened his or her mouth and spoke, he or she branded him- or herself in terms of social class and local origin, and very unfairly, in terms of education. When i wrote something similar here a year or two ago, one of our English members stated that that is still true in England.


It is certainly true in "England" that a person's accent and vocabulary can give rise to assumptions by the hearer about the speaker's social and geographic background. Whether these assumptions are favourable or not depends on a number of factors, for example who is doing the listening and the nature of the conversation. A person who sounds like a toff might be perceived as trustworthy, intelligent and "one of us" or a stuck-up tosser. Likewise a person who speaks like a chav might be regarded as an ignorant oik or as a regular guy, a good person to advise on fixing the rear axle on my truck, etc. In between those two extremes you find a whole range of intermediate situations - people who speak like the BBC used to, who could have come from any class, people who use the "Estuary" or "Mockney" accents, blunt northerners, braw Scots, poetic Welsh folk, romantic Irish (southern) blunt Irish (Belfast), practical and businesslike Brummies, reassuring Geordies, etc etc. There are plenty (the vast majority as far as I can see) who are pragmatic and reserve judgement, preferring to wait and see. This is probably the thing has has happened "quite recently", if you can call the last 50 or 60 years "recent". Somebody who dismissed a person because of their accent would be perceived as ignorant and prejudiced in the same way as if they had dismissed that person for being black, Asian, Jewish or disabled, or for wearing glasses.

You will always have accents that identify people in terms of class and education. The country bumpkin, the sophisticated metropolitan. As I also know from my own observations that it happens in Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Canada and the USA, I suspect that it must be fairly universal.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Jun, 2013 04:19 am
@contrex,
contrex wrote:
I suspect that it must be fairly universal.


Bingo.
contrex
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Jun, 2013 04:22 am
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

contrex wrote:
I suspect that it must be fairly universal.


Bingo.


Strike that "fairly"...
0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Jun, 2013 05:03 am
@contrex,
There was a programme on radio 4 on Tuesday on the anniversary of Liz's coronation, dealing with how the English voice has changed during her reign. We're all less posh now, including Liz.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01f5ld5/Word_of_Mouth_The_Queens_Speech/
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Jun, 2013 07:01 am
Oh, you can hear it.

I tend to speak a kind of midwestern/newscaster (Set's heard me talk) in most social settings, probably because of a not very long time spent living in Pennsylvania during my youth, and also moving around a bit, so that not too much took root in terms of regional accent.

And there is a real difference if I speak the way I usually do, or if I put on the Long Island or the Boston accent. There is a difference in how I'm perceived, and I admit I might do that if I'm out of town and don't want to be bothered, to sound really local Long Island (vowels are broader, words elide more, particularly ending consonants attach themselves to the next word's leading vowel, e. g. Lun Guyland but also Mary Yaster).
0 Replies
 
contrex
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Jun, 2013 07:13 am
@izzythepush,
izzythepush wrote:

There was a programme on radio 4 on Tuesday on the anniversary of Liz's coronation, dealing with how the English voice has changed during her reign. We're all less posh now, including Liz.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01f5ld5/Word_of_Mouth_The_Queens_Speech/


It's amazing to hear pre-war recordings as well, the ludicrously 'cut-glass' accents that would are laughed at now e.g. Mr Chumley-Warner.

I recently heard a recording of HG Wells, a favourite author of mine since childhood, and was struck by his Bromley accent,

0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Jun, 2013 10:46 am
@fresco,
Quote:
Intelligence is often displayed by those who have the ability to "change register" (i.e. modify their accent or dialect) in order to manipulate a social relationship.


That's not intelligence, that's ignorance.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Jun, 2013 11:03 am
@JTT,
Rolling Eyes
Speaking of "ignorance"...read Bernstein (Class, Codes and Control 1971) on restricted and elaborated codes and their relationship to educational and social progress.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Jun, 2013 11:29 am
@fresco,
Quote:
Speaking of "ignorance"...read Bernstein (Class, Codes and Control 1971) on restricted and elaborated codes and their relationship to educational and social progress.


Granted, as described, in its limited context, that would be as ignorant as,

This control is epitomised in the extreme by dominant cultures which try to preclude native language use by minorities. (e.g. the English suppression of Welsh).
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Jun, 2013 11:55 am
the GEICO gecko has an english accent for no known reason for a reason

fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Jun, 2013 12:15 pm
@hawkeye10,
Not simply "English" ...a savvy (street wise) resident of the urban South East...chosen to convey " a guy who knows all the angles".
contrex
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Jun, 2013 12:33 pm
fresco, don't get into an argument with JTT. It would just feed his ADHD.
0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Jun, 2013 12:33 pm
@fresco,
If it was just a common or garden English accent they could have got this guy.

fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Jun, 2013 12:39 pm
@izzythepush,
Benrstein is chuckling all the way to the bank !
0 Replies
 
 

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