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Department of Cognitive Science

Seminar Abstract

Variation in passing for a native speaker: Accentedness in non-native English speakers in production and perception. (CLaS-CCD Research Colloquium Series)

Speaker : Dr Ksenia Gnevsheva, College of Arts and Social Sciences, The Australian National University.
Date : 23rd of October 2017, 2:00PM until 3:00PM
Location : Australian Hearing Hub, 3.610, Macquarie University.

    This talk will discuss a study of sociolinguistic variation in second language speakers of English in New Zealand and focus on the speakers’ variation in ‘passing for a native speaker’, that is, being regarded as a first language speaker of English. Variation in passing is explored from the perspectives of variation in production and perception. In the production study, the second language speakers’ monophthongal vowels are analyzed in comparison with the first language vowels and New Zealand English ones. The speakers were found to style-shift in their production of the first and second formants in different settings (university, family, etc.). The findings suggest that speakers vary in their production according to audience and in the construction of their identities. Additionally, passing is considered from the point of view of perception, and the effect of speaker ethnicity on accentedness perception is discussed in relation to listener expectation. Finally, the talk addresses passing for a native speaker in an experimental context. It reveals interesting trends in the speakers’ variation in passing in different settings (making some settings more conducive than others) and passing for a native speaker of different varieties of English. Taken together, the results paint a complex picture of variation in second language speakers’ production, accentedness perception, and passing for a native speaker.

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