Journal of Language and Discrimination, Vol 2, No 1 (2018)

A qualitative investigation of the experience of accent stigmatisation among native and non-native French speakers in Canada

Nathalie Freynet, Richard Clément, John Sylvestre
Issued Date: 25 May 2018


Decades of research on language attitudes has documented that general negative affect towards nonstandard accents translates into negative evaluations of nonstandard speakers who are considered to be less competent, intelligent or attractive (see Dragojevic, Giles, & Watson, 2013; Gluszek & Dovidio, 2010a). However, fewer studies have investigated the experience of stigmatization from the perspective of the nonstandard speaker. It is this dimension of intergroup interaction that this study addresses. Specifically, this study offers a descriptive analysis of the prevalence of stigmatization among nonstandard French speakers in Canada, the perceived nature of accent discrimination, and the ways in which stigmatized speakers respond to these events. The inclusion of native and non-native speakers (N = 36) from across Canada is done with the objective of capturing the ways in which ethnolinguistic vitality and type of accent nuance the experience of accent stigmatization. Practical and theoretical implications for future studies are discussed.

Download Media

PDF (Price: £17.50 )

DOI: 10.1558/jld.32226


Adank, P., Evans, B. G., Stuart-Smith, J. and Scott, S. K. (2009) Comprehension of familiar and unfamiliar native accents under adverse listening conditions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 35(2): 520–9.

Boudreau, A. and Dubois, L. (2002) Le français à Parkton: de la back yard au centre d’appel. Francophonies d’Amérique 14: 29–36.;

Bourhis, R. Y., Montreuil, A., Helly, D. and Jantzen, L. (2007) Discrimination et linguicisme au Québec: enquête sur la diversité ethnique au Canada. Canadian Ethnic Studies 31–49.

Clément, R. and Noels, K. A. (1994) La communication sociale: aspects interpersonnels et intergroupes. In R. V. Vallerand (ed.) Les Fondements de la Psychologie Sociale 409–56. Boucherville, QC: Gaëtan Morin Éditeur.

Clément, R., Noels, K. A. and Deneault, B. (2001) Interethnic contact, identity, and psychological adjustment: the mediating and moderating roles of communication. Journal of Social Issues 57(3): 559–77.

Corbin, J. and Strauss, A. (2008) Chapter 4: Strategies for qualitative data analysis. In J. Corbin and A. Strauss (eds) Basics of Qualitative Research: Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory 65–85 (3rd edn). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Derwing, T. (2003) What do ESL students say about their accents? Canadian Modern Language Review 69: 547–66.

Derwing, T. M. and Rossiter, M. J. (2002) ESL learners’ perceptions of their pronunciation needs and strategies. System 30: 155–66.

Dovidio, J. F., Gluszek, A., John, M.-S., Ditlmann, R. and Lagunes, P. (2010) Understanding bias toward Latinos: discrimination, dimensions of difference, and experience of exclusion. Journal of Social Issues 66(1): 59–78.

Dragojevic, M., Giles, H. and Watson, B. M. (2013) Language ideologies and language attitudes: a foundational framework. In H. G. and B. M. Watson (eds) The Social Meanings of Language, Dialect and Accent: International Perspectives on Speech Styles 1–25. New York: Peter Lang Publishing. 

Finlay, L. (2002) ‘Outing’ the researcher: the provenance, process and practice of reflexivity. Qualitative Health Research 12: 531–45.

Floccia, C., Goslin, J., Girard, F. and Konopczynski, G. (2006) Does a regional accent perturb speech processing? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 32(5): 1276–93.

Freynet, N. and Clément, R. (2015) Bilingualism in minority settings in Canada: integration or assimilation? International Journal of Intercultural Relations 46: 55–72.

Gallois, C., Ogay, T. and Giles, H. (2005) Communication Accommodation Theory: a look back and a look ahead. In W. B. Gudykunst (ed.) Theorizing about Intercultural Communication 121–48. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Giles, H. (1970) Evaluative reactions to accents. Educational Review 22: 211–27.

Giles, H. and Johnson, P. (1987) Ethnolinguistic identity theory: a social psychological approach to language maintenance. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 68: 69–100.

Giles, H. and Rakić, T. (2014) Language attitudes: the social determinants and consequences of language variation. In T. M. Holtgraves (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Language and Social Psychology. Oxford: Oxford Library of Psychology, Oxford University Press.

Gluszek, A. and Dovidio, J. F. (2010a) Speaking with a nonnative accent: perceptions of bias, communication difficulties, and belonging in the United States. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 29(2): 224–34.

Gluszek, A. and Dovidio, J. F. (2010b) The way they speak: a social psychological perspective on the stigma of nonnative accents in communication. Personality and Social Psychology Review 14(2): 214–37.

Gluszek, A., Newheiser, A. K. and Dovidio, J. F. (2011) Social psychological orientations and accent strength. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 30(1): 28–45.

Goffman, E. (1963) Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Gross, J. J. (2014) Handbook of Emotion Regulation. New York: The Guilford Press.

Guest, G. (2006) How many interviews are enough? An experiment with data saturation and variability. Field Methods 18(1): 59–82.

Hallion, S. (2011) Discours épilinguistiques en francophonie manitobaine: une vue d’ensemble. Arborescences: Revue d’Études Françaises 1: 1–15.;

Jaspal, R. and Sitaridou, I. (2013) Coping with stigmatized linguistic identities: identity and ethnolinguistic vitality among Andalusians. Identity 13(2): 95–119.

Kim, Y. K., Wang, Y., Deng, S., Alvarez, R. and Li, J. (2011) Accent, perceptual foreigner stereotype, and perceived discrimination as indirect links between English proficiency and depressive symptoms in Chinese American adolescents. Developmental Psychology 47: 289–301.

King, N. and Horrocks, C. (2010) Chapter two: Philosophical assumptions. In N. King and C. Horrocks (eds) Interviews in Qualitative Research 6–24. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Landry, R., Allard, R. and Deveau, K. (2013) Bilinguisme et métissage identitaire: vers un modèle conceptuel. Minorités Linguistiques et Société 3: 56–79.

Leblanc, M. (2010) Le français, langue minoritaire, en milieu de travail: des représentations linguistiques à l’insécurité linguistique. Nouvelles Perspectives en Sciences Sociales 6(1): 17–63.

Lippi-Green, R. (1997) English with an Accent: Language, Ideology, and Discrimination in the United States. New York: Routledge.

Lozon, R. (2002) Représentations et sentiments linguistiques des francophones du Sud-Ouest de l’Ontario et la reproduction des variétés de français. Francophonies d’Amérique 14: 55–70.;

Marlow, M. L. (2016) Speech criticism, face-work, and communication responses: towards a model of speech criticism and feedback. Journal of Multicultural Discourses 11(4): 389–411.

Marlow, M. L. and Giles, H. (2010) ‘We won’t get ahead speaking like that!’ Expressing and managing language criticism in Hawai’i. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 31(3): 237–51.

Maxwell, J. A. (1998) Designing a qualitative study. In L. Bickman and D. J. Rog (eds) Handbook of Applied Social Research Methods 69–100. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Miles, M. B., Huberman, A. M. and Saldaña, J. (2014) Qualitative Data Analysis: A Methods Sourcebook. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.

Noël, J. and Beaton, A. M. (2010) Perceptions de groupes, profils identitaires collectifs et bien-être psychologique: la perspective des jeunes Acadiens du sud-est du Nouveau-Brunswick. Revue de l’Université de Moncton 41(1): 211–46.;

Pantos, A. J. and Perkins, A. W. (2013) Measuring implicit and explicit attitudes toward foreign accented speech. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 32(1): 3–20.

Perrot, M.-E. (2006) Statut et fonction symbolique du chiac: analyse de discours épilinguistiques. Francophonies d’Amérique 22: 141–52.

Price, S., Fluck, M. and Giles, H. (1983) The effects of language of testing on bilingual pre‐adolescents’ attitudes towards Welsh and varieties of English. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 4: 149–61.

Rubin, H. J. and Rubin, I. S. (1995) Chapter 7. Assembling the parts: structuring a qualitative interviewer. In H. J. Rubin and I. Rubin (eds) Qualitative Interviewing: The Art of Hearing Data 145–67. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Saldaña, J. (2009) Chapter 1: An introduction to codes and coding. In J. Saldaña (ed.) The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers 3–21. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Schmitt, M. T., Branscombe, N. R., Postmes, T. and Garcia, A. (2014) The consequences of perceived discrimination for psychological well-being: a meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin 140(4): 921–48.

Statistique Canada et Patrimoine canadien (2003) Enquête sur la diversité ethnique.

Tajfel, H. and Turner, J. (1979) An integrative theory of intergroup conflict. In W. G. Austin and S. Worchel (eds) The Social Psychology of Intergroup Relations 33–48. Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Tropp, L. R. and Pettigrew, T. F. (2005) Relationships between intergroup contact and prejudice among minority and majority status groups. Psychological Science 16(12): 951–7.

Wright, S. C. and Bougie, E. (2007) Intergroup contact and minority-language education: reducing language-based discrimination and its negative impact. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 26(2): 157–81.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Equinox Publishing Ltd - 415 The Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 221-0285 - Email: [email protected]

Privacy Policy