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Språkkrönika: How imbecill do people think you are?

”I have been an idiot for many years in Norway, Denmark and the Czech republic. Language is hard work like everything else.” It says the multi-lingual director and actor Tuva Novotny, in a DN interview.

Her statement clearly shows how the world can perceive the one who dares to speak in a language other than their mother tongue. And the greater the linguistic shortcomings are, the greater is also the danger that ”they will be interpreted as cognitive rather than linguistic”, as Östen Dahl, professor emeritus of linguistics, has pointed out. An average american is perceived not only as a bit stupid in Norwegian or Danish – but even more stupid, for example, on the chinese.

An unknown person that breaks in a foreign language or who only speak a different dialect – are also at risk of being labeled as unreliable. This has canadian researchers in communication studies ruled. And the reason is probably that we tend to doubt on people outside our own group, linguistically or culturally.

It doesn't matter how much we reassure our open-mindedness – the brain reveals us relentlessly.

the Scientists have let the subjects listen to short, and neutral statements in English, spoken with varying degrees of security, accent and dialect. At the same time that they listened was measured the participants ' brain activity. Then they had to rate how credible they thought the claim sounded.

the Study showed that when we judge people's identity, with only the voice as a clue, it is clearly in the brain. Different parts are activated depending on whether we perceive the speaker as a part of our own linguistic community or not. It does thus not matter how much we reassure our open-mindedness – the brain reveals us relentlessly.

if a person speaks loudly and clearly, so as to enhance the credibility in the ears of the listener, even if the person speaks differently than in the listener. When we decide whether someone is to be trusted it is a complex balance, which in addition to accent and/or dialect also includes how confident the person sounds.

no matter how much you break in a foreign language, it seems, therefore, to be good to not tremble in the voice. In any case, if you want others to believe in what you say. Another question is how the imbecill they think that it is.

kultur@dn.se

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