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Teoria i metodologia

The Matched Guise Technique: a Classic Test for Formal Measurement of Language Attitudes, by Marina Solís Obiols


5. Conclusions

Now that we have dealt briefly with the main issues concerning use of the matched guise technique in language attitude studies, we can point out the following aspects:

i) the use of a direct or indirect methodology, which has caused a debate.

ii) the possible appearance of stereotypes regarding the recorded linguistic varieties that do not exist in practice;

iii) the experimental nature of the technique;

iv) criticism about the technique’s monostylistic premise;

We shall now propose a number of solutions to try and counterbalance these methodological shortcomings.

As regards the first aspect (i), the use of indirect methodology like the matched guise technique obtains a greater degree of personal introspection. This also involves less rational and, hence, less conditioned, spontaneous and/or sincere responses.

Lambert (1967: 343-44) himself provides the solution to the second issue (ii), bearing in mind this possible methodological limitation:

"a technique has been developed that rather effectively calls out the stereotyped impressions that members of one ethnic linguistic group hold of another contrasting group. The type and strength of impressions depends on characteristics of speakers –their sex, age, the dialect they use, and very likely, the social-class background as this is revealed in speech style. The type of reaction and adjustments listeners must make to those who reveal, though in their speech style, their likely ethnic group allegiance is suggested by the traits that listeners use to indicate their impressions".

Finally, to counterbalance some of the deficiencies highlighted in sections iii) and iv) oral stimulus materials could be recorded (at least a few conversations at any rate), using bilingual texts (Catalan and Spanish, for example) or bidialectal texts (central and north-western dialects of Catalan) in a formal context (using the standard variety, e.g. a conversation in class between a student and a teacher about a book) and in an informal context (using the non-standard variety, e.g. a conversation between two friends about a mainstream film). Recording stylistically-contextualised material would enable us to make up for some of the more experimental features of the technique and allow a multistylistic evaluation of the individuals recorded.

A semi-structured interview with some of the interviewees, in conjunction with the technique, would allow:

i) discourse of interviewees on different aspects of our focus of interest; because this discourse is oral, it will be more detailed and spontaneous (or sincere), reinforcing this ‘need’ to obtain reliable data for the study of language attitudes.

ii) the use of situations of linguistic behaviour contextualised in real situations experienced by the interviewees, since a semi-structured interview would allow this;

iii) the introduction of everyday situations not experienced by the interviewee, that are of interest as regards linguistic behaviour: concerning the mass media, with a political personality,...

We could thus confirm or contrast the results of the questionnaire with the matched guise technique from a qualitative point of view, bearing in mind the conative component of language attitudes.

To sum up, the theoretical and methodological gaps in language attitude studies and the meagre contributions from sociolinguistics and the social psychology of language in this area, continue to foster the deficiencies in methodological application and development, which has clear repercussions on the reliability and significance of the data obtained in these studies.

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