A Pilot Study on Poles’ Attitudes to Foreign-Accented Polish and Its Users

Marek Radomski, Jolanta Szpyra-Kozłowska


Extensive research on native speakers’ attitudes towards foreign accents and their users carried out in immigrant-receiving countries such as, for example, Great Britain, the United States and Australia (e.g. Kalin and Rayko 1978; Lippi-Green 1997; Munro et al. 2006), has allowed specialists to formulate several cross-cultural generalizations concerning the perception and evaluation of accented speech. For instance, according to Lindemann (2002, 2010), the listeners’ attitude towards foreign speakers, shaped by cultural stereotypes and prejudices, plays a crucial role in comprehending accented speech. It is also often claimed (e.g. Said 2006; Lev-Ari and Keysar 2010) that a heavy foreign accent has a negative impact on the listeners’ assessment of speakers’ personality traits, such as credibility, intelligence and competence. Moreover, this negative accent-based social evaluation, as shown by Lippi-Green (1997), might even lead to various kinds of foreign speakers’ discrimination. Contemporary Poland, where Polish-speaking foreigners are still a relative rarity, constitutes an interesting and yet unexplored ground for testing the universality of claims concerning the relationship between the listeners’ cultural prejudices and their evaluations of foreign speakers’ accents, as well as personality traits. In this paper we report on an empirical study in which 40 Polish university students assessed 11 samples of foreign-accented Polish, both in terms of accent features and personal characteristics ascribed to the speakers, in order to find out whether these judgements are affected by Polish listeners’ attitudes towards the speakers’ cultural background and knowledge of their nationality. The results of the study indicate that, on the whole, the speakers’ nationality does not significantly affect the participants’ evaluation of foreign speakers’ accent features (i.e. comprehensibility, foreign-accentedness and acceptability). Such relationship can, however, be found in the attribution of personal characteristics to foreign speakers, which, to some extent, is influenced by the information concerning their nationality and listeners’ cultural prejudices.

Słowa kluczowe

foreign accent in Polish, foreign accent attitudes, foreign accent perception, foreign accent assessment, accent-based attribution of personality traits

Pełny tekst:



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