Research Matters: Will the real me please stand up? Investigating the link between accent and identity
|Starts:||12:00 28 May 2014|
|Ends:||13:00 28 May 2014|
|What is it:||Seminar|
|Organiser:||School of Environment, Education and Development|
|Who is it for:||University staff, Current University students|
The conscious decision to modify one’s accent in some way is arguably a widespread practice in society, often a decision based on a desire to avoid perceived negative judgement by others in social contexts and/or be perceived in a positive light. Such contexts might include job interviews, academic conferences and speaking with people on the telephone at a customer service centre. However, regardless of the rationale for modifying one’s accent, and whether it involves trying to sound less regional or even less ‘posh’, this dissertation approaches the overall subject of accent modification by asking what the implications might be to one’s sense of self when individuals choose to consciously modify their accent. It is perhaps because this practice is quite common that this question has not been considered previously in as much depth as it might have been, and this is the gap that this dissertation seeks to fill.
To investigate this subject, I interviewed eleven students from the University of Manchester, given that my aim was to also discover how the current generation of young adults regard the relationship between their own accent and identity and most of all, the implications to their identity based on any accent modification they practice. The results clearly show that while all participants from a variety of accent backgrounds feel proud of both their regional and linguistic roots, and for many accent modification is felt to be nothing more than a reflection of the social context one is in (e.g. a job interview), three participants perceived modification as a threat to their sense of self in that they collectively regarded it as ‘selling out’. These results therefore suggest that pride in one’s accent can mean for some, that, in keeping with essentialist philosophy, accent, and subsequent identity, is not to be tampered with.
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