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Phonetic convergence towards American English variants by Indian agents in international service encounters

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-274
JournalEnglish World-Wide
Issue number3
Early online date1 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


Outsourced voice-based services (call centres are a typical example) are a situation in which linguistic accommodation might be expected to occur, especially on the part of an agent who is providing a service to a customer or client. Indian agents are of particular interest because the customer accent typically does not have a place in that agent’s repertoire. This presents an opportunity to test whether exposure to the customer accent through telephone work promotes phonetic convergence and/or whether other factors are implicated in convergence.In this map task experiment, sixteen IT workers from Pune (half of whom regularly spoke to American colleagues on the telephone) gave directions to American followers. Of the two variables tested, there was little evidence of convergence in the more salient variable,postvocalic /r/, but considerable evidence of low level shadowing in the less salient variable,the BATH vowel. Neither this low level convergence, nor the few cases of more profound convergence, depended on exposure alone.

    Research areas

  • Indian English, American English, linguistic accommodation, phonetic convergence, call centres, outsourcing, maptask experiment, postvocalic /r/, BATH vowel

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