Attitudes and language detail

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In this chapter, I explore to what extent different levels of language detail in the presentation of attitude targets have an impact on the expression of language attitudes. Results from the research carried out in the Frenchspeaking part of Switzerland (<i>Suisse romande</i>) reveal that the evaluation of a given language variety through a global category name does not equal the sum of average evaluations of each specific feature composing that variety. Being ideologically loaded concepts, global category names (like <i>accent</i>) tend to elicit, in the <i>Suisse romand</i> context, attitudes mostly having for their target stigmatized <i>patois</i> features, while Swiss prestigious features are not mobilized by these concepts. Thus, the use of global category names for attitude elicitation in previous studies may have been a determining factor for the outcome of locating Standard French outside the Swiss community. Finally, results from my study indicate that the validity of language attitude data will be enhanced by taking into account ideology loaded in the process of sociolinguistic interpretation of global stimuli by lay persons, and by assigning to linguistic features under study the same level of specificity in terms of language regard as well as production.


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