Pax Americana? Accent attitudinal evaluations in New Zealand, Australia and America
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AbstractThis study describes a series of evaluations of gender pairs of New Zealand English, Australian English, American English and RP-type English English voices by over 400 students in New Zealand, Australia and the U.S.A. Voices were chosen to represent the middle range of each accent, and balanced for paralinguistic features. Twenty-two personality and demographic traits were evaluated by Likert-scale questionnaires. Results indicated that the American female voice was rated most favourably on at least some traits by students of all three nationalities, followed by the American male. For most traits, Australian students generally ranked their own accents in third or fourth place, but New Zealanders put the female NZE voice in the mid-low range of all but solidarity-associated traits. All three groups disliked the NZE male. The RP voices did not receive the higher rankings in power/status variables we expected. The New Zealand evaluations downgrade their own accent vis-a`-vis the American and to some extent the RP voices. Overall, the American accent seems well on the way to equalling or even replacing RP as the prestige—or at least preferred—variety, not only in New Zealand but in Australia and some non-English-speaking nations as well. Preliminary analysis of data from Europe suggests this manifestation of linguistic hegemony as ‘Pax Americana’ seems to be prevalent over more than just the Anglophone nations.
CitationBayard D, Weatherall A, Gallois C, Pittam J (2002) 'Pax Americana? Accent attitudinal evaluations in New Zealand, Australia and America', Journal of Sociolinguistics, 5 (1), pp.22-49.
JournalJournal of Sociolinguistics