Attitudes towards varieties of English by non-native and native speakers: A comparative view from Taiwan and the UK

Chien, Shou-Chun (2018) Attitudes towards varieties of English by non-native and native speakers: A comparative view from Taiwan and the UK. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Attitudes towards varieties of English have long been at the forefront of sociolinguistic research. Whilst most of these studies have concentrated on native varieties of English, in recent years, research has turned to non-native varieties that arose as English became the lingua franca across the globe. Research has demonstrated that whilst native varieties are generally viewed as being of a higher status, non-native varieties are sometimes considered more positively in terms of social attractiveness, or ‘solidarity’. However, in recent years, non-native speakers have begun to outnumber native English speakers, thus attitudes towards these speakers may be changing.
This study contributes to research on attitudes towards native and non-native varieties of English by conducting a comparative investigation of the attitudes of 317 Taiwanese nationals living in Taiwan and 147 British nationals living in the UK towards different English accents. Online questionnaires utilising both direct (e.g., Likert scales and multiple-choice questions) and indirect (e.g., verbal guise test) methods were employed to examine Taiwanese and British attitudes towards varieties of English. The study examined seven varieties as categorised according to Kachru’s (1992a) three concentric circles: the Inner Circle: Australian English, General American English and Standard Southern British English; the Outer Circle: Indian English; and the Expanding Circle: Japanese English, Spanish English and Taiwanese English.
Four key findings emerge from the study. First, both direct and indirect techniques of evaluation demonstrate that both Taiwanese and British respondents largely favour English varieties of the Inner Circle and the Outer Circle over those of the Expanding Circle. Second, the indirect attitude measurements of the verbal guise test demonstrate that both groups prefer the variety of General American English in terms of both status and solidarity. Third, the research found that a number of social variables (e.g., gender, occupation) had a significant effect on speaker evaluations. Fourth, although Taiwanese and British participants were very capable of distinguishing whether a speaker was native or non-native, there were generally no significant correlations between a speaker’s ability to identify different English varieties and their having a favourable attitude towards these. Overall, the findings demonstrated that Taiwanese and British people predominantly share similar attitudes towards varieties of English. Nevertheless, when the effects of the social variables and speaker identifications are considered, native and non-native speakers’ perceptions of different varieties of English might differ.
These findings contribute to the understanding of the similarities and differences between native and non-native speakers’ attitudes towards varieties of English in the context of an increasingly globalised world and the rise of the non-native speakers of English therein.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Language attitudes, language perceptions, varieties of English, variety awareness, variety identification, verbal-guise test, native and non-native speakers.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PE English
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
Supervisor's Name: Smith, Professor Jennifer and Anderson, Doctor Wendy
Date of Award: 2018
Depositing User: MS SHOUCHUN CHIEN
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-8932
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 16 May 2018 09:25
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2018 15:18

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