Effects of listener characteristics on foreign-accentedness rating of a non-standard English dialect

Andrea Morales, Natasha Warner
2013 Journal of the Acoustical Society of America  
This project analyzes what characteristics of listeners affect whether they perceive Chicano English as foreign-accented English. Many Americans assume Chicano English (CE) is non-native English spoken by native Spanish speakers, but CE is often spoken as a native dialect of English. CE is a very common dialect in Tucson, Arizona, and this project examines the correlation between listeners' ethnicity, familiarity with Hispanic people, and political stance on immigration, and their perception of
more » ... CE as foreignaccented. Stimuli are sentences read by CE and other Tucson speakers that contain phonetic environments where CE has features that distinguish it from Standard American English (SAE). The listener population is Southern Arizonans of various ethnicities with varying degrees of exposure to CE and Spanish. The experiment uses a Foreign Accentedness Rating (FAR) task, as well as classification of stimuli as spoken by a Hispanic vs Anglo speaker and background questions on listeners' language background and political opinions. Highly accurate identification of ethnicity is predicted, as well as correlations between some measures of the listeners' background and strength of FAR rating of CE speakers. Conclusions involve the effect of long-term exposure to a local dialect and sociolinguistic status on perceived degree of foreign accent Andrea Morales 2014 1 I. Introduction: Chicano English is a non-standard dialect of English spoken mainly in the South West region of the United States. It is influenced by the contact with Spanish and is spoken as a native dialect of English. (Fought 2003,1) Members of the general public (non-linguists) usually believe that Chicano English is the result of the influence of first language (L1) Spanish on second language (L2) English. Even though this can be true in some speakers of CE, native English speakers who cannot speak Spanish but that do come from a family of Hispanic descent also speak Chicano English. In their case, it is a non-standard dialect of English spoken as an L1. Chicano English was first born after the war of 1848 after Mexico ceded some of its territory to the U.S, along with its people and the Spanish language. Through the high numbers of immigration these two languages have been in constant contact thus influencing each other and starting this new dialect. (Fought 2003,14) The state of Arizona, being a border state with Sonora, Mexico, receives great amounts of immigration each year coming from this country and countries further South in Central and South America. Many of these immigrants do not learn English until they are already living in the U.S., making their accents more noticeable to the ear of a native speaker of English since often phonological, syntactic and semantic patterns from their L1 get carried into their L2. These immigrants raise children who may grow up with both English and Spanish or sometimes English only until this dialect gets passed down through generations resulting in Hispanic English monolinguals who speak Chicano English. The dialect these immigrants acquire in the U.S. may also be CE if it is widely spread among the community in which they live in. Anglo residents of states like Arizona hear CE spoken by both Hispanic people who are monolingual in English and Andrea Morales 2014
doi:10.1121/1.4831631 fatcat:fkvjan7clbhtnkbjyej3fo7lka