Keeping it real or selling out
The effects of accent modification on personal identity
Accent modification is arguably a common practice in Britain, given the often negative class-based assumptions regarding regional accents in particular. Rather than assume that accent modification is a neutral practice, however, the current study asks how accent modification can potentially impact on people’s identity. In other words, how does a consciously modified accent affect how people see themselves? To answer this, 92 British participants were involved in the study, providing questionnaire responses. The results show that while most remain neutral toward the practice, over a third regards accent modification as ‘selling out’. This demonstrates how accent-based prejudice in society can be the motivating factor to modify one’s accent and, as many celebrate their natural accent, accommodation can lead to individuals feeling like frauds, suggesting that pride in one’s accent can mean for some, that, in keeping with essentialist philosophy, accent, and subsequent identity, is not to be tampered with.
Keywords: identity, self, convergence, accent, speech accommodation
Published online: 16 June 2016
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