Off topic: Native Speakers: Take Part in Linguistic Research
Thread poster: Peter Gleason

Peter Gleason  Identity Verified
United States
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Nov 10, 2012

Dear Fellow Anglophones,

A friend of mine is conducting linguistic research and asked for the input of "native speakers" of English. If you are interested in taking part, you may complete the survey by following these links:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/7T9KMQ3

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/DXTJMTW

I took the survey myself and was done in about 20 minutes. Some of the questions were interesting to pause and reflect on.

I'll be up very late tonight working on a project, and so if you want to discuss the survey with me here it would be a welcome diversion.

Kind Regards,

Peter


 

Alison Sparks  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:18
French to English
+ ...
Interesting Nov 11, 2012

Where and when will the results be published, please?

There seems to be a definite contrast between US an UK English with a blurring of the two as the other options!


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:18
Hebrew to English
Seems to be focusing on Pragmatics/Politeness Nov 11, 2012

....which I remember well from my University days.

However, I hope you realise by posting it on here how many false "native speakers" may end up completing it.icon_frown.gif


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 11:18
Chinese to English
I did it, but... Nov 11, 2012

I think you should tell your friend that the unidiomatic English may well confound his results. I'm assuming, like Ty, that what he's looking at is politeness. But in several of the questions I found it hard to get a feel for the politeness levels because the phrases were not natural native English.

 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not idiot-proof enough? Nov 11, 2012

Maybe I'm just not sharp enough, but when I answer to Question 2 (2. BEFORE A LECTURE), below it there is this question: "Which sentence in question 3 would you be MOST likely and LEAST to say in this context? Why?"

Since I haven't yet answered question 3, I try to move on to the next page, where I suppose Q3 will be, but I find that it tells me "This question requires an answer." and won't let me move on to the next page. So I gave up trying to fathom it out, sorry.


 

Peter Gleason  Identity Verified
United States
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Great to Hear from You All Nov 11, 2012

Alison, thank you for taking the survey. I think that the results will be published soon in Poland, as my friend told me that the survey was wrapping up. I will invite her to our forum so that she might link to the abstract from here after its publication.

Some of the multiple-choice answers that I didn't pick did indeed look to be UK English; in fact my initial impression was also that US and UK English were being contrasted. The idea of them blurring is interesting, I wonder if this process is also occurring in real life.

I'm curious - did you all pick the UK-English answers?

Hi there Ty, thanks for taking the survey. I think you're right. I might have a question for you all then. Why might it seem to Americans that the British are more "polite" (and even more intelligent!) than their own countrymen? Is there a subjective conflation of "accent" and "politeness"? As far as "false natives" go, I'm sure the survey caught themicon_wink.gif Lol maybe that's what she was really testing for.

Or maybe - 'evening, Phil - she was testing to see if we'd report some of the phrases as unnatural and "unnative". But as far as I know, her academic interests haven't switched to behavioral psychologyicon_wink.gif. Thank you very much for taking the survey. I will bring your observations to her attention.

Back to the mines!


 

Rachel Fell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:18
French to English
+ ...
I agree... Nov 11, 2012

Phil Hand wrote:

I think you should tell your friend that the unidiomatic English may well confound his results. I'm assuming, like Ty, that what he's looking at is politeness. But in several of the questions I found it hard to get a feel for the politeness levels because the phrases were not natural native English.

...in addition to which there are some punctuation errors and a word or two seemed to be missing in one of the sentences.


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:18
Hebrew to English
Indirectness etc. Nov 11, 2012

Питер wrote:
I'm curious - did you all pick the UK-English answers?


I'm not sure which I picked, was there a way of telling US from UK? I just picked the ones I'd be inclined to say in a natural setting amongst fellow Englishmen(and women!)icon_smile.gif
It seemed to me that most the multiple choice questions had answers which were on an incline from ridiculously (almost artificially) polite to a bit blunt in the middle then on to downright rude at the opposite end of the scale.

Although perhaps I'm not a prototypical Englishman as far as politeness goes - I might have been 'tainted' by my association with the natives of my source language - who, bless them - aren't known for their politenessicon_smile.gificon_smile.gif

Why might it seem to Americans that the British are more "polite" (and even more intelligent!) than their own countrymen? Is there a subjective conflation of "accent" and "politeness"?


Apart from being (a somewhat outdated?) stereotype, If there's anything linguistic that contributes to that...it probably harks back to pragmatic politeness theories which posit that politeness in the English language is related to indirectness (the more indirect an utterance, the more polite it is considered, usually). On the whole, I'd say the English probably are more indirect than the Americans (this is anecdotal - but I'd be surprised if there's no academic literature out there which has looked at this). So, if there is a basis in your hypothesis - it will probably have a foundation there.

Also...
...I'm sure there is a conflation with the accent thing, preconceived notions and stereotypes can be quite influential in one nation's view of another. (Although we don't all speak like the Queen, contrary to more unenlightened views). For example, I wouldn't associate the Geordie accent with politeness, for example. (Or the Cockney accent, certainly not the Scouse accent...).

[Edited at 2012-11-11 17:56 GMT]


 

Alison Sparks  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:18
French to English
+ ...
Well maybe Nov 11, 2012

it's age related as well.

@Rachel and Phil, where I felt the English was incorrect I answered other and changed the phrasing. There were one or two which would not sit well with today's generation but were perfectly acceptable to mine.icon_smile.gif

@Ty, the indirectness may well be age related as well? Certainly the US variants (I thought) were much more direct than the way in which I was taught to respond as a child but which bore a close resemblance to the speech of my American contemporaries at school.


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:18
Hebrew to English
Yep Nov 11, 2012

Alison Sparks wrote:
@Ty, the indirectness may well be age related as well? Certainly the US variants (I thought) were much more direct than the way in which I was taught to respond as a child but which bore a close resemblance to the speech of my American contemporaries at school.


That's why I suggested/hinted that the stereotype of the polite Brit is a bit outdated. I'd say people of my generation and younger are far more direct (and consequently less polite) than say my parents' generation and older....although I was wary of saying this overtly as I thought it might be more a perception thing (in my day....icon_smile.gif ).


 

Helena Chavarria  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:18
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I agree Nov 11, 2012

neilmac wrote:

Maybe I'm just not sharp enough, but when I answer to Question 2 (2. BEFORE A LECTURE), below it there is this question: "Which sentence in question 3 would you be MOST likely and LEAST to say in this context? Why?"

Since I haven't yet answered question 3, I try to move on to the next page, where I suppose Q3 will be, but I find that it tells me "This question requires an answer." and won't let me move on to the next page. So I gave up trying to fathom it out, sorry.


I started answering but I got fed up of selecting 'other' and writing what I would say, as none of the answers convinced me. However, I felt as though I was giving a class to learners of English as a foreign language, and I gave up.

Sorry!


 

Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:18
Italian to English
Politeness Nov 11, 2012

Питер wrote:

Why might it seem to Americans that the British are more "polite" (and even more intelligent!) than their own countrymen? Is there a subjective conflation of "accent" and "politeness"?


An unresearched and untested theory of mine: often when I hear Americans (and particularly New Yorkers) speaking, I recognise their more direct ways of asking for things as literal translations from the Italian. No doubt other languages have had an influence as well.

Of course, the Italian expressions are not really less polite; Italians use a range of devices and meta-language to compensate, which are quite foreign to British norms of communication behaviour.


 

Peter Gleason  Identity Verified
United States
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
That's a Wrap! Nov 12, 2012

This part of the study is now complete, many thanks to everyone who took part. Publication is slated for next spring.

Hey Neil yeah I noticed that too and reported it, not sure if that was part of the drill or not. I just answered for question 2, not 3. Typo? Thanks anyway!

Hi Rachel, thanks for having checked out the survey. Yeah I'm not sure if those were typos or on purpose.

Ty, obviously the unnatural ones are UK English. The downright rude ones probably come from the continent via Brooklynicon_smile.gif (@Russell). Thanks for bringing up pragmatic politeness theories and for the explanation of them. I'll try to look out for directness and indirectness the next time I'm dealing with people from different cultures. I guess we just don't have exposure to different British accents in our media... I wonder if you all have exposure to different American accents in yours.

Hi, Helena. Each question had an answer that I could see myself using, but I speak American English. Interesting! Thanks for having taken a look. I'm sure your write-in answers will prove valuable.

New York accents sure are distinct - I think that your theory would be very interesting to research. Also, to tie in with the above, I wonder how much individual variation in directness/indirectness among different (and scattered) communities can be traced back to the Old World. For example, stereotypes regarding Italian-Americans are still very much alive; "The Sopranos" had a field day with them. But I digress...


 

Rachel Fell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:18
French to English
+ ...
Other Nov 12, 2012

I answered a number of the questions with Other and gave my own suggestion, as not many sounded like what I'd say. I find many Americans are very polite, though. And yes, Russell, I notice a number of influences in US English from other languages.

 


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