Gabriella  Licata

Evaluating attitude changes in progress towards "native speaker" status in Italy

As linguistic scholarship continues to intersect with critical perspectives of race, gender, and ethnicity, understanding how linguistic bias operates as a gradient scale of implicitness is vital to breaking down oppressive structures. Language ideologies of native speakerism in Italy are entrenched by White Supremacy, despite the vast racial and ethnic diversity that exists there today. In this project, I utilize social psychology research paradigms to assess potential changes in Italians’ attitudes regarding who “counts” as a “native” speaker. I elicit a continuum of explicit to implicit attitudes using various measures of social cognition, including direct questioning (explicit), the matched guise technique, and implicit association test. Any significant differences in bias between the three tests supports an attitude change in progress. Furthermore, I seek to reveal reverse linguistic stereotyping, which highlights how social information, like photos that depict speaker race or gender, affect how listeners perceive language through racializing processes. This reveals how language and nonlinguistic social constructs are co-naturalized, allowing language to serve as a proxy for racism.