Evaluating English Accents WorldWide: Introduction

This was the first extensive project to investigate current attitudes and evaluations of the various "standard" accents of English over a wide area of the world. We attempted to ascertain and analyse the current status and attributes associated with middle-of-the-road American (Inland Northern), English (Near-RP), and general Australian and New Zealand accents.* See Background for more information.

We employed a tape featuring male and female voices using each Accent reading a short set passage, and asked listeners to evaluate each voice on a series of personality and voice traits, as well as estimating the speaker's age, ethnicity, educational level, income, and social class. See Methods for details.

Our general goals were to see how English-speaking and non-English speaking nations evaluate the four accents, and to investigate the possible influence of the broadcast media on these evaluations. See Aims. For brief summaries of each group's guesses on national origin of speakers and the mean scores awarded their personalities, see Results.

* American=NAm, English English=EE, Australian=AusE, New Zealand=NZE.