The New Zealand accent has been rated the most attractive and prestigious non-British form of English, according to a BBC survey.
New Zealand English came in first ahead of Australian, American and most regional British accents in the study published in the international Journal of Sociolinguistics, edited by Professor Allan Bell, Director of AUT’s Institute of Culture, Discourse and Communication.
Standard English, Scottish and Irish were rated top in the 5000-person survey, which was analyzed by researchers from the University of Wales Centre for Language and Communication Research.
“On the linguistic side, the high rating for New Zealand English probably reflects the fact that it is relatively close to the prestige British accents,” Professor Bell said.
“On the social side, it seems to represent generally positive British attitudes to New Zealand and New Zealanders.”
The fact that the British rate New Zealand English so highly is ironical, Professor Bell said, because studies of New Zealanders' attitudes show they are often very negative about their own accent and prefer British English.
"It looks like the post-colonial cringe is now entirely out dated."
New Zealand English rated highly on both attractiveness and prestige. It was the 6th most socially attractive accent, placed above the Queen’s English (7th) and well ahead of Australian (13th) and American English (15th). ‘Standard English’, Scottish and Irish accents topped the list.
New Zealand also ranked high (7th) on prestige, again above Australian (11th) and American English (8th). The Queen’s English got the highest ranking for prestige.
Respondents from throughout the United Kingdom completed an online survey rating the prestige and social attractiveness of 34 different accents of English.
For more information contact:
Dr Allan Bell
Auckland University of Technology
Professor of Language & Communication
Director, Institute of Culture, Discourse & Communication