Networking through regional accents: The influence of individual differences in social network properties on regional accent processing

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  • This thesis investigates the influence of social network size and social network “racial” diversity on regional accent processing. 122 participants listened to recorded English speech produced by 24 native English speakers. These 24 native speakers consisted of six different English speech varieties, specifically, Australia, Canada, Jamaica, Scotland, South Africa, and the United States of America. I asked participants to rate the recordings for accent strength and intelligibility on 10-point scales. Participant found the speakers to be highly intelligible, while accentedness rating ranged from mid to high. Analysing the data with ordinal Generalized Additive Mixed Models demonstrated that the Canadian accent was rated as less accented and more intelligible than the other five English speech varieties. Additionally, smaller social network sizes predicted that participants found the American accent more intelligible than other non-Canadian accents. Notably, the findings of this study do not support the hypothesis that the “racial” diversity of participants’ social network modulate accent perception. The former results support previous findings that variations in social experiences influence how people process language (Lev-Ari, 2019). Further research is required to better understand the role that differences in social network “racial” and linguistic composition modulate accent perceptions (Kutlu et al., 2022).

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    Research Material
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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International