Americans’ attitudes toward foreign accents: evaluative hierarchies and underlying processes

Marko Dragojevic, Sean Goatley-Soan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


This study examined Americans’ attitudes toward standard American English (SAE) and nine, non-Anglo foreign accents: Arabic, Farsi, French, German, Hindi, Hispanic, Mandarin, Russian, and Vietnamese. Compared to SAE speakers, all foreign-accented speakers were rated as harder to understand, more likely to be categorised as foreign (rather than American), and attributed less status and solidarity. However, not all foreign accents were equally denigrated on status and solidarity traits. Instead, an evaluative hierarchy emerged, with speakers of some varieties (e.g. French, German) consistently rated more favourably than speakers of others (e.g. Arabic, Farsi, Vietnamese). This variation in language attitudes was associated with variation in social categorisation–i.e. the higher the percentage of nonstigmatized foreign categorizations (i.e. Anglosphere, Western Europe) for a given foreign variety, the more favourably speakers of that variety were rated–and listeners’ processing fluency–i.e. the easier speakers of a given foreign variety were to understand, the more favourably they were rated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-181
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Language attitudes
  • foreign accent
  • intergroup
  • metacognition
  • processing fluency
  • social categorisation
  • stereotypes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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