In social-psychological research language has been used as a means of evoking stereotyped reactions reflecting differential views of social groups. Various British and North American studies using the basic principles of the "matched-guise" technique-a method designed to measure rather private and uncensored attitudes-conclude that standard varieties of English usually connote high status and competence whereas regional non-standard varieties may be seen to reflect greater integrity and attractiveness. Socially conditioned nonstandard varieties are often evaluated most negatively. In the present study 212 informants with different age, sex, social class, linguistic background and place of residence listened to seven voices representing different social groups (four regional varieties from Jutland, Funen and Bornholm, high and low variety of Copenhagen-speech and Standard Danish) and evaluated the quality of the language and the competence, status and social attractiveness of the speaker regarding various dimensions. The results indicated the existence of a hierarchical social structure in Danish society somewhat similar to the one found in many British and North American studies. The speaker of Standard Danish was generally evaluated positively in most dimensions whereas regional non-standard varieties were often seen as more socially attractive. The socially conditioned non-standard speaker had a more negative evaluation in most dimensions. Only the place of residence of informants had a significant impact on their evaluations. The general tendency was to down-grade one’s own group which might suggest weak conceptions of ingroup solidarity-and a possible explanation why language standardization has been so effective in Denmark.
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