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Language attitudes in England and Austria. Comparing reactions towards high and low prestige varieties in Manchester and Vienna.
[Thesis]. Manchester, UK: The University of Manchester; 2011.
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This thesis presents results obtained during 2007/08 in the course of doctoral research into attitudes towards linguistic variation in England and Austria and is based in part on a study by Lees (2000). In this project attitudes amongst British and Austrian informants towards low-prestige (‘dialect’) and high-prestige varieties are investigated on the basis of assumptions made about speakers of these varieties. The data are collected by means of the ‘matched-guise technique’, whereby informants listen to a number of recordings of low and high-prestige varieties and note their reactions on the basis of a selection of traits using a semantic differential. In this way the research aims to ascertain whether a pattern emerges, where the informants' perception of the guises is influenced by the prestige of the spoken variety. The results in England and in Austria are compared in order to determine similarities and differences in language attitudes towards low and high-prestige varieties in the two countries. Some results presented here correspond to certain social expectations, with high-prestige speakers being associated with better-paid employment and a better education. Other results, though, are less predictable, as where, for example, the female informants in England and in Austria judge the speakers more positively than the male informants, regardless of the prestige of the speaker's variety. In any case, there is evidence from both countries of the informants' evaluations of the speaker being influenced by their associations of the speaker's variety with that speaker's social status. The data also indicate that the social status of speakers in England is judged to a greater extent on the basis of their spoken variety than is the case in Austria, where speakers are more used to switching freely between points on the standard-dialect continuum and are consequently less judgemental in their perception of a speaker based purely on the evidence of their spoken variety.
Austria; England; Language attitudes; Matched-guise; Sociolinguistics; Variety