Attitudes towards foreign accents among adult multilingual language users

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Dewaele, Jean-Marc ; McCloskey, James (2015)

The present study investigates inter-individual variation (linked to personality traits, multilingualism and sociobiographical variables) in the attitudes that 2035 multilinguals have of their own and others’ Foreign\ud Accent (FA). Data were collected through an on-line questionnaire. We found that extraverted multilinguals, who were emotionally stable and tolerant of ambiguity were significantly less bothered by the FA of others. Only more neurotic multilinguals were bothered by their own FA. Unexpectedly, participants who knew more languages to a higher level were more negative about the FA of others and\ud their own. However, participants who grew up in an ethnically diverse environment, who had lived abroad\ud and who were working in an ethically diverse environment were significantly more positive about FA. While sex had no effect on the attitudes towards the FA of others, women had a more negative attitude towards their own FA. Education level and age were also linked to attitudes towards FA. The findings thus show that how much multilinguals are bothered by FA falls partly outside their conscious control as it\ud depends on their personality, their language learning history, their current linguistic practices and their sociobiographical background.
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