Journal of Sociolinguistics

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Volume 23 Issue 4 (September 2019), Pages i-iv, 329-431

Complicating categories: Personae mediate racialized expectations of non‐native speech (pages 346-366)

Abstract This paper examines how American listeners’ expectations of non‐native English speech from speakers of East Asian descent can be modulated by the persona invoked by a speaker's visual display. While prior work has typically linked expectations of non‐native speaker status with East Asian‐ness broadly construed, this study indicates that US listeners’ expectations can be tied to more particular manifestations of this racialized identity, themselves informed by raciolinguistic ideologies. In a lexical recall task with persona‐based photographic primes, different visual styles embodied by the same Korean individual induced contrasting expectations of “foreign accented” speech, which corresponded to significant differences in how well the speech was remembered. Ultimately, I argue that models of sociolinguistic perception should include cognitive representations of social constructs like personae, not only to better capture the detailed nature of listeners’ sociolinguistic expectations, but also to avoid perpetuating homogenizing treatments of racialized groups’ language practices.

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