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Why people might discriminate against foreign accents


Eldorado
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On the face of it, we often enjoy hearing different accents. The way we talk simply reflects the sounds of the language in the environment in which we grew up. It should not have any social significance. But in reality, people do attribute value to accents and discriminate against non-native speakers.

Although some accents, such as French, might be perceived as pleasant, research into English speakers in the US and UK shows that a foreign accent is often perceived negatively.

For example, people rate salespeople as less knowledgeable and convincing if they have an accent, and some research indicates that they are less likely to recommend someone for hiring or promotion if the person has a foreign accent.

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As a Dutch European living and working in Canada I can tell you that my foreign accent has not only just put smiles on peoples faces but also opened the doors many times as a conversation starter with total strangers walking up to me asking about my accent and where it originates from. I even had some flirtation interactions with people telling me how they love my accent believe it or not lol. So I say more power to accents :tu: and don't believe the hype lol.

Edited by thedutchiedutch
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Speaking truthfully and openly then the urge to discriminate (as a Brit) is not experienced by me against French, Dutch, German, Swedes, etc.

I have felt it against Italians and Poles though, although I have never acted on it. 

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It's been my experience that British and Australian accents are received in a very friendly way.  Accents from within the U.S. tend to cause more discrimination.  One of our southern comedians had a routine on that topic.  His name was Lewis Grizzard.  He liked to say that southern men who did business outside the south tended to do well because their counterparts up north heard the accent and wrongly assumed them to be a bit "slow" ;) 

Southern ladies tended to succeed in dealing with male counterparts in the north because the accent was found to be endearing :) 

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Part of the bias seems to derive from the fact that a foreign accent signals a person as an outgroup member – someone who is not part of their usual circles – and people tend to favour ingroup over outgroup members.

The ingroup, i.e. same accent majority,  is accustomed to a certain way of doing things, and a certain way of being treated and an understanding of all of that.  Many foreigners don't really understand the ingroup...they expect the ingroup to be like 'their' ingroup.

For instance...the other day I stopped into a convenience store to use their restroom.  A sign on the only restroom in the store said, Sorry Restroom is Broken.

I said to both attendees, So, the restroom is broken?  Yes, yes, restroom broken!  I said, What is broken about it?  Restroom broken!  I said, Where do you go when you need to use the restroom?  One pointed across the street to a major chain grocery store.  This is a very busy street...3 lanes each way.

I said, So, when  you need to go, you cross all that traffic to go to use the restroom.  Yes, yes.  I said, I don't believe you.  Angry looks.  I said, I am not in the habit of buying anything in a store where the bathroom is 'broken'.   And I left.

It's more than the accent...it is the inability to understand the ingroup on the part of the foreign accent.

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My Irish-Canadian speaking English with a Spanish accent has worked pretty good at times.:whistle:

Edited by jmccr8
missed ed
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  • 4 weeks later...
On 12/5/2021 at 4:38 AM, jmccr8 said:

My Irish-Canadian speaking English with a Spanish accent has worked pretty good at times.:whistle:

That sounds like a linguistic jambalaya!

 

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3 hours ago, Abramelin said:

That sounds like a linguistic jambalaya!

 

Hi Rob

In high school I had an English lit teacher that spoke 13 languages with a heavy Polish accent.:lol:

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On 12/4/2021 at 7:30 PM, and then said:

It's been my experience that British and Australian accents are received in a very friendly way.  Accents from within the U.S. tend to cause more discrimination.  One of our southern comedians had a routine on that topic.  His name was Lewis Grizzard.  He liked to say that southern men who did business outside the south tended to do well because their counterparts up north heard the accent and wrongly assumed them to be a bit "slow" ;) 

Southern ladies tended to succeed in dealing with male counterparts in the north because the accent was found to be endearing :) 

I live in central Illinois and people from that area or southern Illinois have a slight southern accent. But if you go to Chicago.

They think you're from a southern state. I was in Chicago at a Cubs game a few years ago and the beer vendor thought I was from Texas.:lol:

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