Attitudes towards Finnish-accented English
The thesis opens with a discussion of what attitudes are, and develops with a review of studies of attitudes towards pronunciation error, attitudes towards foreign accents and perception of foreign-accented speakers. The empirical part of the thesis attempts to identify how native (British) and Finnish listeners of English react to and evaluate typical segmental features of mispronunciation in the English speech of Finnish men and women of various ages. Two experiments using modifications of the matched-guise technique were conducted, one to consider error evaluation and to establish a hierarchy of segmental mispronunciation, the other to examine speaker evaluation, the image of the speaker created by the mispronunciation. Recordings of Finnish-accented English were presented to male and female listeners of various ages, and reactions collected. Statistical analyses of the results were carried out and the following general conclusions were drawn: the English labiodental lenis fricative /v/ when mispronounced in the typical Finnish manner as a labiodental frictionless continuant [u] is not tolerated by native English listeners at all, though it is highly tolerated by Finnish-speaking listeners (and Swedish-speaking Finns) themselves; the degree of mispronunciation in Finnish-accented English seriously affects listeners' estimations of the speaker's age, bad mispronunciation prompting under-estimation of age and good pronunciation over-estimation; both Finnish-speaking listeners and English-speaking listeners have almost identical clear pre-set standards about what constitutes 'good' and 'bad' pronunciation; a Finnish speaker's phonemically 'better' and 'worse' pronunciation affects the image listeners have of the speaker, status/competence traits in particular being up-graded for better pronunciation, solidarity/benevolence traits remaining broadly unaffected, and Englishspeaking listeners generally being more positive towards the Finnish-accented speakers than compatriot Finns.