Thursday, October 03, 2013

Putting up with prejudiced sit

Following on from last week's Tonight programme and its focus on attitudes to regional accents, here's a great piece by accent coach Erica Buist on what she describes as snobbery and disdain for foreign accents among many English people.

While accent prejudice is nothing new, it's troubling to see how it can apparently stand in the way of well qualified people getting jobs and being accepted. As Buist points out:

Even out-and-out xenophobes start sentences with, "I don't mind foreigners, but …" While it's tedious to hear bigotry tarted up as a point of view, at least the lie is an acknowledgement that xenophobia isn't acceptable. But companies don't start sentences with, "we're not xenophobic, but …" – they make it company policy.
Elsewhere in the piece she quotes research from the University of Chicago that suggests foreign accents undermine a speaker's credibility with listeners, even if the listeners aren't aware of it at the time. Rather like the ComRes survey for the ITV Tonight programme (also reported in The Telegraph) it appears that it's not just what you say but how you say it that affects how you're viewed by others.

Buist is going to have watch out, though - sounding a bit like a Jenny Foreigner and having the nerve to criticise anything to do with the UK -  while Paul Dacre's Daily Fail is still frothing at the mouth and accusing one and all of hating the country.

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