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Judging people and their language use: How attitudes towards languages and speakers’ nationality influence speaker evaluations in multilingual contexts, using Luxembourg as an example

  • Lehnert, Tessa Elisabeth
  • Krolak-Schwerdt, Sabine
  • Hörstermann, Thomas
Publication Date
Mar 21, 2016
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In social encounters, language is one of the most salient cues eliciting evaluative responses. According to models on language attitudes (e.g., Cargile, Giles, Ryan & Bradac, 1994), listeners` attitudes towards the speaker`s language influence the evaluation of this speaking person. However, linguistic stimuli might evoke additional inferences, e.g. on speaker`s nationality. We are therefore experimentally testing whether attitudes towards languages and attitudes towards speaker`s nationality are two distinguishable constructs which has not been addressed in previous research. Furthermore, the distinction between implicit and explicit attitudes is examined, resulting in a theoretical framework of four distinct types of attitudes influencing speaker evaluations. Luxembourg`s linguistic context is determined by the existence of various languages spoken by different inhabitants. In the present study, the model is tested with Luxembourgish and French. Using a combination of explicit measures and an adapted audio Implicit Association Test (IAT; Greenwald et al., 2002), language and national attitudes of Luxembourgish university students are assessed. According our hypotheses, it is expected that language attitudes correlate moderately with national attitudes, providing evidence for the factorial separability. Results of regression analyses are discussed to give insight into the predictive impact of the four attitude types on speaker evaluations. A comparison between implicit and explicit attitudes is put into focus to demonstrate the model’s relevance. Overall, this study contributes to ascertaining the complexity of influencing factors on person perception based on linguistic cues by treating language and national attitudes as distinguishable constructs.

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