LINGUIST List 13.98

Thu Jan 17 2002

Qs: "ALL" Paradigm, "Standard American" Accent

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  1. mike dzarka, Artificial Language Learning Paradigm
  2. clee, Standard American accent?

Message 1: Artificial Language Learning Paradigm

Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2002 00:52:28 +0000
From: mike dzarka <>
Subject: Artificial Language Learning Paradigm

Dear Linguists and Psycholinguists,
I am considering research that may be best done in the Artificial Language 
Learning (ALL) Paradigm. I was hoping that some more experienced collegues 
could suggest articles or other resources that would show the the ways in 
which ALL has been used in the past and what its limitations and strengths 
Thank you,
M. Dzarka

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Message 2: Standard American accent?

Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2002 12:17:58 +0800 (CST)
From: clee <>
Subject: Standard American accent?

Dear Linguists,

Someone recently asked me if there was a "standard" American accent.
I responded by saying that there are many different American accents
and no standard one. But I also mentioned that there was a general
concensus among Americans that the northwest accent, seemed to be
special among all of them in that it:

 1. is the one most people have no problems understanding, 
 2. is the one that seems to have the least noticable accent, 
 3. is the one that is the most nondescript, is the one people 
 made least fun of, etc. 

I recall being told something to this effect 20 years ago and I think
they said this was due to some research (anybody know if this is
true?). But the research also suggested that this may not be due to
anything special about the northwest accent but simply because the
national TV newscasters spoke with this accent. But the research also
left open the possibility that the TV networks used this accent
because they also knew or discovered that it was the most
understandable accent.


I want to make sure that my own bias (I grew up in the northwest) is
not influencing me, so what I want to ask this list is if there has
really been any research in this area, regardless of whether it was
from 20 years ago or more recently? If so, what research has been
done and what were their conclusions?

Also, other questions that come to mind are:

 * Is there a way to "objectively" determine in a linguistic way 
 which accent should be the most understandable apart from 
 other factors such as accent exposure or social norms? 
 * Is there a way to quatify what is the most nondescript (i.e. central) 

- Charles Lee, Ph.D Linguistics
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