Where do negative stereotypes come from? The case of Indian English in the USA

Ethan Kutlu, Caroline Wiltshire


Language attitudes inform social stereotyping, which in turn affects linguistic judgments (Fiske, Cuddy, & Glick 2007). Nonstandard varieties are particularly subject to negative stereotypes, being evaluated as "less friendly" and "hard to understand" (Giles & Watson 2013). In this study, we investigate attitudes towards Indian English, a variety of English spoken by one of the largest immigrant populations in the USA (approximately 2.4 million), to understand the roots of linguistic stereotyping towards this variety of English. We compared attitudes of American English speakers towards Indian English and British English. Our results show that while American English speakers do not explicitly indicate any communication problem with Indian English, they disfavor Indian English compared to British English. This disfavoring of Indian English aligns with Raciolinguistic theories, suggesting that post-colonialism, especially Whiteness, is a factor in language prestige and how different varieties are perceived.


raciolinguistics; World Englishes; Indian English; British English; language prestige; attitudes

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.3765/plsa.v5i1.4669

Copyright (c) 2020 Ethan Kutlu, Caroline Wiltshire

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