2004
Volume 64, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0039-8691
  • E-ISSN: 2215-1214

Abstract

This paper reports an experimental answer to a question which has remained controversial since it was put on the agenda in the Romantic era: is beauty individually or communally determined? Applied to our research topic, accent variation in spoken Netherlandic Standard Dutch, this question should be rephrased as: is the perceived beauty of regional accents of Dutch in the eye of the beholder, or is it entrenched in the communal attitudes towards these varieties? Listener-judges rated the audio-taped speech of eight speakers representing four regional accents on traits pertaining to four evaluative dimensions, viz. integrity, dynamism, competence and status, but also on a separate scale pertaining to how beautiful or ugly the speech was found. The experiment reported here confirms prior experimental work which demonstrated that the beauty scale correlated with the evaluative dimensions inherent in the ratings. This overarching and synthesizing function of the perceived beauty of speech suggests a communal rather than an individual origin of aesthetic perception in the field of language attitudes. We therefore concur with Van Bezooijen (2002) that beauty perceptions afford privileged and convenient access into language attitudes.

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2012-12-01
2021-12-04
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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): dialect perception; Language attitudes; regional accents; sociolinguistics
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