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Vortrag am 30.05.2017

Gitte Kristiansen (Universidad Complutense de Madrid): "The Rationale behind Gut Reactions to Language: A Case Study in Cognitive Sociolinguistics"

When Germans speak English the Swiss identify them as Germans. But do the Germans know the Swiss? Who are the best identifiers of foreign and native accents of English in Europe? And who are the worst? Which accents do we know the best? Is there a major difference between native and non-native varieties or between the different European language groups? How relatively intelligent, friendly, trustworthy, successful, hardworking or polite do different nationalities judge the same speakers to be? What am I actually evaluating: speech, speakers or speech communities?

In this presentation we discuss non-linguists´ attitudes towards varieties of English and their abilities to identify both native and non-native `Englishes´. In the first part of the talk we examine the socio-cognitive mechanisms that are at work when our folk perceptions and attitudes are elicited and measured. Part two surveys a number of recent language attitude studies and address the questions formulated above. Finally we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of adopting explicit versus implicit measures in order to trigger language attitudes.


Grondelaers, Stefan & Tore Kristiansen (2013) On the need to access deep evaluations when searching for the motor of standard language change. In T. Kristiansen & S. Grondelaers (eds.) Language De(standardisations) in Late Modern Europe: Experimental studies, 9-52. Oslo: Novus Press.

Kristiansen, Gitte (2008) Style-shifting and Shifting Styles: a Socio-cognitive Approach to Lectal variation. In G. Kristiansen & R. Dirven (eds.) Cognitive Sociolinguistics: Language Variation, Cultural Models, Social Systems, 45-88. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Kristiansen, Gitte (2003) How to do things with allophones: 2003) How to do things with allophones: Linguistic stereotypes as cognitive reference points in social cognition. In R. Dirven,  R. M. Frank y M. Pütz (eds.) Cognitive Models in Language and Thought, 69-120. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

McKenzie, Robert M. (2015) UK university students’ folk perceptions of spoken variation in English: the role of explicit and implicit attitudes. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 236: 31-53.