Phonetic convergence towards American English by Indian agents in international service encounters
In outsourced voice-based services (call centres are a typical example), an agent providing a service is likely to accommodate their speech to that of the customer. In services outsourced to India, as in other postcolonial settings, the customer accent typically does not have a place in that agent’s repertoire. This presents an opportunity to test whether exposure to the customer accent through telephone work promotes phonetic convergence, and/or whether social factors are implicated in convergence. In this map task experiment, 16 IT workers from Pune (half of whom regularly spoke to American colleagues on the telephone) gave directions to American followers. There was evidence of imitation of the bath vowel with an American addressee. However, imitation did not depend on exposure alone. Attitudes to American English, social networks and individuals’ sense of themselves as performers affected their behaviour in the experiment.
Keywords: Indian English, American English, linguistic accommodation, phonetic convergence, call centres, outsourcing, map task experiment, bath vowel
Published online: 01 December 2017
Adamson, H. Douglas, and Vera M. Regan
Anderson, Anne H., Miles Bader, Ellen Gurman Bard, Elizabeth Boyle, Gwyneth Doherty, Simon Garrod, and Stephen Isard
Bain, Peter, and Phil Taylor
Bardhan, Ashok, and Cynthia A. Kroll
Beebe, Leslie M., and Howard Giles
Boersma, Paul, and David Weenink
2006 Praat: Doing phonetics by computer (Version 4.6.25) [Computer software]. http://www.praat.org/.
Branigan, Holly P., Martin J. Pickering, Janet F. McLean, and Alexandra A. Cleland
Carletta, Jean, Stephen Isard, Gwyneth Doherty-Sneddon, Amy Isard, Jacqueline C. Kowtko, and Anne H. Anderson
Clopper, Cynthia G., David B. Pisoni, and Ken de Jong
Di Paolo, Marianna, Yaeger-Dror, Malcah, and Beckford Wassink, Alicia
Giles, Howard, Nikolas Coupland, and Justine Coupland
Goldinger, Stephen D.
Gowariker, Ashutosh, and Ronnie Screwvala Producers and Ashutosh Gowariker
(Director) 2004 Swades. India: UTV Motion Pictures.
HCRC Map Task Corpus
http://www.hcrc.ed.ac.uk/maptask/ (accessed June 2017).
Johnson, Daniel Ezra
Kim, Midam, William S. Horton and Ann R. Bradlow
Labov, William, Sharon Ash, and Charles Boberg
Leech, Geoffrey, and Paul Rayson
Lewandowski, Natalie, Matthias Jilka, Guiseppina. Rota, Susanne Reiterer, and Grzegorz Dogil
Mahboob, Ahmar, and Nadra Ahmar
Maxwell, Olga, and Janet Fletcher
2011 “The Philippines: The World’s hotline”. BBC News Manila, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-14149615 (accessed 30 April, 2015).
Mesthrie, Rajend, and Rakesh M. Bhatt
Nihalani, Paroo, R. K. Tongue, Priya Hosali, and Jonathan Crowther
Nycz, Jennifer R.
Pardo, Jennifer S.
Pickering, Martin. J., and Simon Garrod
Sahgal, Anju, and Rama Kant Agnihotri
Schneider, Edgar W.
Shockley, Kevin, Laura Sabadini, and Carol A. Fowler
Tagliamonte, Sali A., and R. Harald Baayen
Upadhya, Carol, and A. R. Vasavi
2011 “India’s Call Centre Growth Stalls”. BBC News, Mumbai, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15060641 (accessed 30 April, 2015).
Walker, Abby, and Kathryn Campbell-Kibler
Watt, Dominic, Carmen Llamas, and Daniel Ezra Johnson
Watt, Dominic, and Anne Fabricius
Weatherholz, Kodi, Kathryn Campbell-Kibler, and T. Florian Jaeger
Wiltshire, Caroline R., and James D. Harnsberger
Yu, Alan C. L., Carissa Abrego-Collier and Morgan Sonderegger