Volume 38, Issue 3
  • ISSN 0172-8865
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9730
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In outsourced voice-based services (call centres are a typical example), an agent providing a service is likely to accommodate their speech to that of the customer. In services outsourced to India, as in other postcolonial settings, the customer accent typically does not have a place in that agent’s repertoire. This presents an opportunity to test whether exposure to the customer accent through telephone work promotes phonetic convergence, and/or whether social factors are implicated in convergence. In this map task experiment, 16 IT workers from Pune (half of whom regularly spoke to American colleagues on the telephone) gave directions to American followers. There was evidence of imitation of the vowel with an American addressee. However, imitation did not depend on exposure alone. Attitudes to American English, social networks and individuals’ sense of themselves as performers affected their behaviour in the experiment.


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