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Keeping it real or selling out: the effects of accent modification on personal identity

Baratta, Alex (2014) Keeping it real or selling out: the effects of accent modification on personal identity. UNSPECIFIED. UNSPECIFIED. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Accent modification is arguably a common practice, notably in Britain given the class-based assumptions made regarding regional accents in particular. Rather than assume that this practice is something people simply ‘get on with’, however, without further thought, the current study asks how accent modification can potentially impact on people’s identity and sense of self. In other words, how does a consciously modified accent affect how people see themselves? To answer this question, 100 British participants were involved in the study, largely based on questionnaire responses. The results show that while most remain neutral toward the practice, just over a third regards accent modification as essentially ‘selling out’. This demonstrates how widespread accent-based prejudice in society can be the motivating factor to modify one’s accent and, as many celebrate their natural accent, accommodation based on such prejudice can lead to individuals feeling like frauds, as is seen with several participants.

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