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Evolution and Dialect Perception: The Case of Language Analysis in the Asylum Procedure

Abstract

Little experimental work of direct relevance to Language Analysis in the Asylum Procedure (LAAP) has yet been conducted; neither has theory-building attracted much serious attention. Here I attempt to construct a theory of native speaker competence in dialect perception founded on insights from sociocultural evolution, variationist sociolinguistics, social psychology and antireductionist philosophy. I also augment the limited stock of relevant empirical work with an experimental study involving Yorkshire English as the ‘target’ dialect and a range of listener groups, from Yorkshire and elsewhere, with and without an educational background in linguistics. Participants in the study (N = 197) were presented with 10, c. 10-second voice samples – four featuring Yorkshire speakers and six featuring non-Yorkshire speakers from the ‘linguistic north’ of England – and asked ‘Is this a Yorkshire accent?’. All participants were native speakers of English. Results of the study suggest that having been born and raised in Yorkshire is the most robust predictor of the ability to accurately perceive Yorkshire speakers. A statistically significant effect on accuracy found for linguistic education is likely attributable to imbalances in the listener sample. I interpret these findings as broadly consistent with the proposed theory of dialect perception, which emphasises bottom-up acuities conferred by the evolution of human sociality rather than – as previously proposed – the enlightening effect of linguistic education. I also discuss the possible consequences of these findings for current approaches to LAAP, considering especially the types of speaker-listeners best suited to perform the linguistic analyses required.

صندلی اداری سرور مجازی ایران Decentralized Exchange

Keywords

Language Analysis in the Asylum Procedure, LAAP, Language Analysis for the Determination of Origin, LADO, asylum-seekers, dialect recognition, language, evolution, dialect perception

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