Title: “The Intelligence of the Accent”: A Quantitative Analysis of Saudis’ Attitudes Towards Three Expanding Circle Accents of English
Stream: Educational policy
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Ahmed Hakami, University of Bisha, Saudi Arabia
This study quantitively examines attitudes held by Saudis towards three accents from the Expanding Circle (Kachru 1985, 1992) varieties of English: their own accent of English and two others. By means of Verbal-Guise Technique experimentation (see Garrett 2010; McKenzie 2010), stimuli of Spanish, Chinese and Saudi accents of English were employed to elicit attitudinal data from 84 Saudi respondents via an online questionnaire. The results of this study suggest that the accents under investigation were perceived in a non-discriminatory manner. Confirmed by the ANOVA test, the results revealed a similar and quite neutral attitude towards the accents. While researchers usually find an attitudinal distinction between solidarity and status (Zahn & Hopper 1985), the findings of the present study suggest an absence of such a distinction when evaluating the accents. This was further considered as a sign of the existence of attitudinal ambivalence and social-desirability bias. On this note, another important revelation of the study is the potential role of international education in raising linguistic tolerance as evidenced by a chi-square test of independence for age and educational level of the respondents. Further, the results showed a difference in the evaluation of the accents in which the respondents were expressing relatively more negative attitudes towards their own accent of English compared to the other accents. Finally, this study contributes to the ‘sociolinguistic theory’ (Garrett 2001, p.630), and paves the way to establish a framework of language attitudes research on English varieties, or even, other languages in the Saudi context.