Fonetiek en vreemde-talenonderwijs
  • ISSN 0169-7420
  • E-ISSN: 2213-4883
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This paper discusses some of the results of an investigation into pronunciation preference among two groups of first-year students of English in the Netherlands. Our aim was to establish in how far RP, the accent that is used almost universally in Dutch secondary and tertiary education, appeals to these learners as a pronunciation model as compared with a number of other English accents (General American, Cockney, Yorkshire General Australian, Scots English and 'near-native Dutch RP'). The inves-tigation was prompted by the suspicion that the presence of a large number of American features in the English accent of beginning first-year students of English might be an indication of the popularity of an American style accent among these students. The test consisted of seven versions of an animal fable, read by seven different speakers, illustrating the seven accents. Students were asked to score these accents for appeal on a five-point scale. The scores revealed that, contrary to our expectations, the RP version was rated significantly higher than the American version. This may, however, have been due to the rather staid, middle generation character of the accent involved. Scots, Yorkshire, Gen Australian and Cockney appeared to have very little appeal, while the 'Dutch RP' version had roughly the same appeal as the American accent. Apart from this general trend, the appeal-scores showed interesting differences for the various subgroups. It was also attempted to establish to what attributes of the seven accents the preference scores could be related. It appeared that two factors, social status and personal attractiveness, correlated highly with the preference scores. Future research will be aimed at developing scales which will more accurately determine to what attributes preference is related. It will also be attempted to establish the 'covert' as opposed 'overt' prestige of certain English accents for Dutch learners.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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