English voices in ‘Text-to-speech tools’: representation of English users and their varieties from a World Englishes perspective

Ali Karakaş


English has experienced grave transformations recently in terms of socio-demographic and geographical characteristics. While such transformations have resulted in diverse types of English uses and various English users, the existing ELT materials still fail to represent the global varieties and dynamic uses and users of English. Moving from a World Englishes perspective, this paper investigates a corpus of online Text-to-Speech tools and software to discuss their suitability for teaching English according to the plurithic view of English, which throws focus on various users and uses of English. Analysed via quantitative content analysis, the data showed that TTS tools promoted the Inner circle (native-English) varieties over the Outer and External circle (non-native) varieties and non-native accents. In addition, the absolute absence of users from the Expanding circle was observed as no speakers from this circle was available in the tools analysed. The findings suggest that a satisfactory World Englishes perspective has not yet been taken into consideration in the present Text-to-Speech tools. There is, thus, a crucial need for a shift in the design of such tools to get them adjusted to represent different types of English users and uses.


World Englishes; text-to-speech technology; English language teaching; linguistic diversity; concentric circles; lingua franca; language varieties

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.alls.v.8n.5p.108


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