How to sound Spanish in English: questionnaire findings and implications for English-language original and dubbed fiction
In this article, I analyse the results of a questionnaire conducted in order to discern how to sound Spanish in English or, more precisely, how to be perceived as a native-Spanish speaker by native-English speakers. The study set out to determine the degree of specificity to which native-English speakers perceive foreign accents in English, in general, and Hispanic-accented English, in particular. The study also aimed to elucidate the key phonetic realisations that contribute to an accent being perceived particularly as such and whether that perception requires authenticity. The final main aim was to uncover the personality characteristics Anglophones associate with Hispanic-accented speakers. With regard to this last point, I delve into the concept of dialectal memes, which explain how social value is inextricably linked to and therefore indexed by accents, and test the hypothesis that memes exist. In addition to exploring answers to the questions at the core of these aims, I provide further analysis on tangential findings revealed in the participants’ responses, such as the matter of whether celebrity or knowledge of a speaker’s identity, e.g. Rafael Nadal or Penélope Cruz, generates perception bias. Ultimately, the analysis provided in this article aspires to elevate foreign varieties of English to pluricentric status in the Anglosphere, and to lay the grounds on which to posit that the most defining characteristic of these varieties is accent. In addition, I consider how the findings might inform fictional renditions of foreign accents in both original and dubbed versions.
Key words: foreign accents, native accents, linguistic variation, empirical study, perception study, questionnaire, audiovisual fiction, dubbed versions, English dubs, pluricentrism, non-dominant varieties, enregisterment, ethnolects, Hispanophones, Rafael Nadal, dialectal memes