Trang Nguyen, Postgraduate Researcher, Anglia Ruskin University
"Intelligibility in Vietnamese L2 accents of English and the influence of intelligibility on social evaluations towards the speaker"
The worldwide use of English results in much communication between L1 speakers of English and L2 speakers of English. There is also an increasing use of English among L2 speakers of English with other L2 speakers of English. Their accents can result in misunderstandings, and to prevent this, as well as to improve the quality of English communication, enhancing intelligibility seems to play a central part in addressing this problem. However, in the case of Vietnamese accented English, there is very little research that has been investigated to indicate which features could affect their intelligibility and accentedness, which constitutes a big gap in the field. Besides, it is widely believed that there is a link between intelligibility and the social evaluations towards the speakers. However, previous studies mostly investigated L2 accents and their social implications at a more general level and revealed negative effects of L2 accents on, for example, job applicants and credibility, and they also indicated that L2 accents are frequently perceived to have a lower status although they tend to be rated more highly on solidarity. Thus, it seems that intelligibility influences these social evaluations. Nevertheless, no study has looked specifically into how ease of, and difficulty of, understanding the speaker might influence social evaluations (e.g. the perception of prestige or social attractiveness), representing a substantial gap in the field which this research would fill. This study will use a mixed-method approach for data collection following two experiments. The first is a perception experiment to evaluate intelligibility and accentedness. The second is an evaluation task and sociolinguistic interview to assess the social aspects.
Michael James, 2nd year PhD student, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge
“Investment in symmetrical multilingualism: researching successful white South African learners of African languages in the post-apartheid era”
Symmetrical multilingualism, in the South African context, describes an African language-inclusive variety of multilingualism – something almost entirely lacking in South Africa’s white population, who would typically speak English and/or Afrikaans. In this presentation, I will provide (1) a general background and introduction to the topic, (2) a focus on the multiple case study design I plan to use in my research, and (3) some hypotheses about the instantiation of successful investment, both at the individual and societal levels, of symmetrical multilingualism in South Africa.