A foreign accent causes doubt

Tom Zurinskas truespel at HOTMAIL.COM
Sun Feb 23 06:26:54 UTC 2014

from http://bit.ly/1fsffdp
"Lev-Ari and Keysar hypothesized that the difficulty of understanding accented speech has a unique effect on a speaker’s credibility that cannot be attributed to stereotypes about foreigners. A good test case for this idea would be a speaker who is simply delivering a message from a native speaker. If people find the message less believable when the messenger has an accent, then the judged credibility is impacted by the cognitive fluency associated with processing speech, not by prejudice.
Lev-Ari and Keysar put this idea to the test in a simple experiment. They asked people to judge the truthfulness of trivia statements were recited by either native or non-native English speakers. (Example: A giraffe can go without water longer than a camel can.) The non-native speakers had mild or heavy Asian, European, or Middle Eastern accents. The subjects were told that all the statements had been written by the researchers but, still, the subjects tended to doubt them more when recited with an accent.
 In a second experiment, participants were explicitly told that the goal of the research was to study how the difficulty of understanding people’s speech might affect the perceived credibility of their statements. Statements were still judged as less truthful when spoken in heavy than native accents, although participants were able to correct their judgments for mild accents. 
These findings have important implications for how people perceive non-native speakers of a language, particularly as mobility increases in the modern world, leading millions of people to be non-native speakers of the language they use daily. Instead of perceiving their speech as harder to understand, natives are prone to perceive their statements as less truthful. Consequently accent might reduce the credibility of non-native job seekers, court eyewitnesses, or college instructors for reasons that have nothing to do with xenophobia per se. "
Tom Zurinskas, Conn 20 yrs, Tenn 3, NJ 33, now Fl 9.
See how English spelling links to sounds at http://justpaste.it/ayk

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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