January 06 2022 · 4 min read
Linguistic Racism That Hits Non-Native Speakers of A Language.
Sometimes when people are all ears while you speak, they are not all ears but all eyes. What one is saying does not matter but who is saying is evaluated. As soon as you open your mouth to speak, people would be more focused on how you speak it rather than what you speak. They might neglect what you are saying and instead ask you “Could you please repeat yourself I did not get you?”
There are certain dialects of a language that are considered the real versions. These dialects are the mainstream dialects, which dominate over all others. Speaker of any language not speaking the mainstream dialect is considered inferior to others. Because dialects are not only used to judge your language, but also to analyze your lifestyle. When the listener is focused more on the way you speak than what you are saying, then they drive the wrong impression of you from your accent.
People belonging to particular places speak in a certain way. Because learning a language is part of your cultural knowledge. You learn your language, words, vocabulary, pronunciation, in the same way, you learn your traditions and customs. And you do not do it on your own, you learn it from the people around you. So it is generalized that dialects are not just the way you speak, it is your culture expressing themselves. And outsiders believe that speakers of a region will have the same dialect, but only an insider can show the other way around.
Who Speaks the Language?
It has become a common phenomenon to judge the ethnicity and social background of a person in accordance with one’s speaking style. As soon as you open your mouth you are up to be judged. The more you speak the more you tell your listener about how you are accustomed to living your life. And words coming out of your mouth tell about people in your region. For example, in Pakistan people from Gilgit Baltistan are confused with Pathans from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Because they have a strong regional accent, unlike other Pakistanis.
Sometimes dialects are more or less desirable in accordance with who speaks them. The speaking style of urban, white people is a dialect to desire. It is a more standard dialect than the dialects of rural people or black people.
Linguistic Stereotyping Limits Opportunities.
On tracing back the history in professions like the film industry and writing and storytelling, one witnesses how accents have been stigmatized. Even our writers have used people with strong regional accents as characters who are less intelligent and less trustworthy. While other stereotyping has used such people as characters in comics.
Standard status is attached with the English accent of wealthy and white majority countries like America and Britain. Even in such countries accents of African Americans and Nigerians are ridiculed and discriminated against. In addition, Asians remain misunderstood and discriminated: seeing an Asian face, an American would consider the Asian’s English hard to understand.
This happens majorly in the West that accent stereotyping imposes limitations on your opportunities. Limitations, which may limit you from improving your career. And if you want to improve your career you are required to learn a standard, dominant dialect. Sometimes Americans do not accept accents other than the standard. Other times, offices have the only English-speaking rule, which creates trouble for multilingual people. As well as, when employees with strong accents are not allowed to participate in business meetings, it’s linguistic racism.
The App That Changes Accents.
This app, which is still not available in Play Store, is called “Sanas”. It is developed by three students of Stanford who struggled due to their accents and saw others hesitate. They have an international background. The trio says that no one should be discriminated against or withheld from a position or job just because of the way they speak a language. During their student life, they have also encountered linguistic discrimination.
This app can change English to and from, American, Australian, British, Filipino, Indian and Spanish accents. And other accents can also be added to it. A lot of effort are been put in to make the converted accent sound more natural and to make sure it delivers the same emotions and excitement after conversion. If it becomes available for individual persons it might help to eliminate issues that arise from linguistic discrimination.