Ideologised values for British accents


Address correspondence to:
Nikolas Coupland
Centre for Language and Communication Research
Cardiff University
Cardiff CF10 3EU
United Kingdom


We report quantitative results from a large online survey of 5010 U.K. informants' reactions to 34 different accents of  English, based on simple accent labels. Patterns of accent evaluation, in terms of adjudged levels of prestige, social attractiveness and some other variables, in many regards confirm broad findings from earlier research. Accent-types associated with ‘standard’ speech are, for example, strongly favoured in the prestige and attractiveness dimensions. Several urban U.K. vernaculars, but not all, are systematically downgraded. On the other hand, robust differences emerge which have not been strongly evidenced previously – particularly differences according to informant gender (with females regularly producing more favourable evaluations) and region (with informants often favouring their own and linked varieties). There are also some important effects by informant age, for example with younger informants attributing less prestige to ‘standard’ accents. We interpret the findings as indicating rather persistent U.K. language-ideologies around accent difference that are being reconstituted only gradually and in specific regards.