This experimental methodology has
received a series of criticisms which, in many cases, have been used to revise and make
better use of the technique.
One of the
methodological debates regarding the study of language attitudes is based on the use of
direct and indirect methodology (Cooper & Fishman, 1974); the most representative
example of the direct type of methodology is the use of questionnaires; for indirect
types, a clear example might be the matched guise technique.
techniques such as the matched guise test permit a higher degree of introspection and
privacy for the person interviewed (Lambert, 1967), producing more
spontaneous and sincere responses. Direct questionnaires, on the other hand,
introduce aspects with negative methodological connotations, such as: i) possible
ambiguity in the formulation of direct and indirect questions; this can increase if terms
such as language and dialect are used, the latter traditionally
having negative undertones; ii) the limitations of writing for answering this type
of questionnaire, in comparison with the fluency and attention to detail permitted by
type of question used in direct and open questionnaires also invites
interviewees to freely express their attitudes towards the object in question (Agheyisi
& Fishman, 1970). Generally speaking, though, the use of questionnaires, whether
open or closed (closed questionnaires can be answered
using yes or no or by choosing one of a series of
scaled answers) may be distortive because each question that is asked can be
interpreted in different ways since it does not form part of a communicative context
opinion, however, what makes indirect methodology more preferable, is that the use of
questionnaires (direct methodology), particularly those that offer written responses to
open questions, involves choosing or deciding rationally. To avoid this
distortion, more indirect methods have been sought, bearing in mind the affective
component of language attitudes which are very often irrational and involve many
prejudices (Bierbach, 1988).
use of indirect methodologies, such as the matched guise technique, aims to counterbalance
the possible deficiencies of the methodological application of questionnaires, or direct
4. The matched guise technique
earlier, this technique involves asking interviewees to evaluate the personal qualities
of speakers whose voices are recorded on tape, whereby the same speaker uses different
linguistic varieties. Thus, the interviewees evaluate the personal qualities of
the individuals recorded without knowing that it is the same person
according to the linguistic variety used, and in line with the stereotypes and social
prejudices of these linguistic varieties, which tend to be uniform. In order to explain
the technique a little more, we will briefly run through the most relevant components
before dealing with the methodological aspects that could be revised:
the variables of sex; age; L1, variety used in
domestic relationships, etc. of the judges evaluating the recorded
voices are taken into consideration;
the variables of sex, age, voice and linguistic
variety of the individuals recorded are taken into consideration.
the stimulus material spoken in the linguistic variety that is recorded is studied from a
strictly linguistic approach (phonetic, morphological, syntactic and lexical aspects) and
from a stylistic point of view (formal, informal register...).
the interviewees have no information about the voices; that is, they do not
know that the voices speaking at least two different linguistic varieties are
the same person and that these are guises; this is where the technique gets its
name: matched guise.
there is total control over the variable voice, with the removal of all
features of speed, volume, timbre, tone, etc. Nonetheless, the importance of this
technique lies in manipulating the linguistic features of the oral stimulus
material, rather than in manipulating the recorded voices.
the length of the oral stimulus material recording is two minutes;
the judges or interviewees are asked to evaluate the personal qualities of the
recorded individuals on the basis of their voices, as if they were evaluating
the voice of somebody they did not know during a telephone conversation.
a questionnaire allows the personality traits of the voices evaluated to be
attributed to the voices (intelligence; leadership; physical attractiveness;
social status, unpleasantness...).