Caught between norms - The English Pronunciation of Dutch Learners

Author: Monique van der Haagen
LOT Number: 012
ISBN: 90-5569-55-4
Pages: 145
Year: 1998
€29.00
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Teachers and informed laymen have been heard to remark that the English pronunciation of young Dutch speakers sounds more and more American. This book aims to show to what extent this is true. It reports on the English pronunciation of 204 secondary school pupils in Amsterdam, Groningen, Venlo and Nijmegen. In addition, it investigates what character traits these pupils associate with male and female speakers of British and American English. This was done by means of a listening test in which the pupils judged a total of twelve speakers of both varieties on a number of such traits. Finally, it attempts to relate the pupils’ pronunciation to the results of attitude as well as preference tests.
The production data reveal that in free speech 40% of the occurrences of the variables investigated show an American pronunciation. The preference test shows that the pupils regard British English as the norm, but that there is a shift in preference towards American English for most of the variables. The attitude test showed that Americans and Britons were considered equal in social status, but Americans are considered more dynamic, especially female speakers. There was a considerable difference between mavo and vwo learners, and between learners from the four cities, but, contrary to the usual sociolinguistic finding, there was no difference between male and female subjects in any of the tests.
This book is of interest to sociolinguists, anglicists, and teachers of English who are interested in their pupils’ attitudes, and who therefore need to become aware of the dichotomy between the exclusive use of British English in teaching and the increased use of American English in everyday life.

Teachers and informed laymen have been heard to remark that the English pronunciation of young Dutch speakers sounds more and more American. This book aims to show to what extent this is true. It reports on the English pronunciation of 204 secondary school pupils in Amsterdam, Groningen, Venlo and Nijmegen. In addition, it investigates what character traits these pupils associate with male and female speakers of British and American English. This was done by means of a listening test in which the pupils judged a total of twelve speakers of both varieties on a number of such traits. Finally, it attempts to relate the pupils’ pronunciation to the results of attitude as well as preference tests.
The production data reveal that in free speech 40% of the occurrences of the variables investigated show an American pronunciation. The preference test shows that the pupils regard British English as the norm, but that there is a shift in preference towards American English for most of the variables. The attitude test showed that Americans and Britons were considered equal in social status, but Americans are considered more dynamic, especially female speakers. There was a considerable difference between mavo and vwo learners, and between learners from the four cities, but, contrary to the usual sociolinguistic finding, there was no difference between male and female subjects in any of the tests.
This book is of interest to sociolinguists, anglicists, and teachers of English who are interested in their pupils’ attitudes, and who therefore need to become aware of the dichotomy between the exclusive use of British English in teaching and the increased use of American English in everyday life.

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