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Folklore: dialect and discrimination in the US

Jack Campin 31 Aug 15 - 06:25 PM
Big Al Whittle 31 Aug 15 - 06:31 PM
GUEST 31 Aug 15 - 06:49 PM
Jack Campin 31 Aug 15 - 06:57 PM
Lighter 31 Aug 15 - 09:03 PM
LadyJean 31 Aug 15 - 11:07 PM
Jack Campin 01 Sep 15 - 05:09 AM
Lighter 01 Sep 15 - 09:03 AM
GUEST, ^*^ 01 Sep 15 - 10:02 AM
Lighter 01 Sep 15 - 11:23 AM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Sep 15 - 06:56 PM
GUEST,dáithí 02 Sep 15 - 07:59 AM
Jack Campin 02 Sep 15 - 09:07 AM
Lighter 02 Sep 15 - 09:34 AM
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Subject: Folklore: dialect and discrimination in the US
From: Jack Campin
Date: 31 Aug 15 - 06:25 PM

Political issues around the idioms African-Americans use are old news. This one is a bit different (the authors don't mention race so it seems this is an independent issue):

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/08/150831140349.htm

Anybody here experienced it?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: dialect and discrimination in the US
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 31 Aug 15 - 06:31 PM

reminds me of that lenny bruce schtick - if Einstein had been a southerner we wouldn't have the the bomb....

'goddam! this nucleer fission is real serious stuff boy! i tell ya!'

'shut up! you idiot!'


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Subject: RE: Folklore: dialect and discrimination in the US
From: GUEST
Date: 31 Aug 15 - 06:49 PM

The article was interesting to read. However, 2 questions:

1) this isn't really folklore, and, in my opinion, should be put in the BS section, as it isn't all that related to music, either.
2) Honestly, I feel like the first sentence is pretty unnecessary, and I'm not sure why you brought it up.
    Nonetheless, Mudcat has traditionally treated linguistics in the "folklore" category and included it in the music section of our Forum.
    -Joe Offer, Mudcat Music Editor


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Subject: RE: Folklore: dialect and discrimination in the US
From: Jack Campin
Date: 31 Aug 15 - 06:57 PM

I brought it up to pre-empt some of the more predictable kinds of idiot response.

Of course language is folklore. What this article is about is getting shut out of opportunities for speaking the language used by some of the most revered singers in the American folk tradition.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: dialect and discrimination in the US
From: Lighter
Date: 31 Aug 15 - 09:03 PM

I can speak from direct experience that vast numbers of Americans, including many from the South, believe that the so-called "hillbilly" accent of the Appalachians and Upper South indicates markedly low intelligence and general crudity.

But they think the same thing about the working-class NYC (erroneously called "Brooklyn") accent, the Gulf accent (progenitor of the stereotypical African-American accent), as well as several others.

(The above simplifies considerably the American accent situation.)

The general "rule" is, the stronger and more identifiable your regional accent, the dumber certain half-educated people (not usually academics) will assume you are.

Does that "rule" not apply in Britain as well?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: dialect and discrimination in the US
From: LadyJean
Date: 31 Aug 15 - 11:07 PM

The "Bob Newhart Show" of the 1980s, was set in a small town in Vermont. Among the characters were a trio of backwoods dimwits known as Larry, Daryl and Daryl. Though they lived in Vermont, and, apparently always had, they spoke like southerners. Nobody ever commented on it.

I spent two years in a college in Kentucky. I came home at the end of the year with a drawl. Until it went away, I couldn't ask people for directions. Well, I could, but I would be misdirected. It wasn't fun.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: dialect and discrimination in the US
From: Jack Campin
Date: 01 Sep 15 - 05:09 AM

Does that "rule" not apply in Britain as well?

For some accents, yes. (Having a middle-class regional accent, from Edinburgh or south-east England, never hurt anybody). But there's a widespread American belief that class stereotyping (to the extent that it limits social mobility) is something that only happens the other side of the Atlantic.

This particular one is relevant here because so many folksongs have been collected from source singers who have that sort of accent. Over a very long period; Sharp and Karpeles went to the Appalachians because it was home to a marginalized community cut off from the mainstream culture, and the Lomaxes found the same decades later. Looks like not much has changed over a century.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: dialect and discrimination in the US
From: Lighter
Date: 01 Sep 15 - 09:03 AM

Except country & western stars now make fortunes and are idolized.

Southerners Johnson and Carter were elected President, as was the extremely regional-sounding JFK.

Achievement beats accent. (If you're about to object that it's wealth, not achievement, remember that Johnson's background was dirt-poor - as was were those of many C&W stars.)

Of course, a strong accent of any kind can make starting to achieve a little more difficult. (Incognito, Elizabeth II would be considered snooty no matter what she was saying.)

However, I've encountered *serious* accent bigotry mainly in older and pretentious people, the kind who scold everyone for splitting infinitives or saying "irregardless." They are often prejudiced in other ways too.

As long as someone is easily understandable - which is almost always the case - they'll generally be judged by factors other than their accent. But first impressions do matter.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: dialect and discrimination in the US
From: GUEST, ^*^
Date: 01 Sep 15 - 10:02 AM

I grew up in a region that has a Canadian influence layered over the Norwegian-English accent (think Sarah Palin, but smart). As a child anything that sounded different was interesting, and to those childish ears Southern accents in general sounded "dumb."

Having living around the US east, west, north and south now, those old regional biases are long gone, but my ears perk up out of interest when I hear a strong regional accent. They're disappearing. Think Jimmy Carter, Ann Richards, or Molly Ivins. Smart southern accents that get listened to.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: dialect and discrimination in the US
From: Lighter
Date: 01 Sep 15 - 11:23 AM

Heavy *ethnic* accents are probably more generally and more strongly stigmatized.

This is notably true of "African-American vernacular English" (AAVE), which involves differences in grammar as well as in pronunciation. Like Scots, it is a true "dialect" rather than a mere "accent" of English.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: dialect and discrimination in the US
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Sep 15 - 06:56 PM

Does that "rule" not apply in Britain as well?

Probably more so, both in terms of class and regional. Ethnic as well, but probably less so. After the first generation most people tend to talk most of the time in the same accents as the people among whom they live, in my experience.

All countries seem to have some regions whose people are liable to be mocked, and used for the same jokes. Norfolk, Kerry... And call centres and so forth are generally understood to have identified certain regional accents as particularly useful, because of the stereotypes attached to them.

That can even outweigh class, though in practice strong regional accents tend to be eroded by "social mobility".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: dialect and discrimination in the US
From: GUEST,dáithí
Date: 02 Sep 15 - 07:59 AM

was it George Bernard Shaw who said something along the lines of:
   
" Whenever an Englishman opens his mouth, another Englishman will condemn him for it"?

I take this to refer to regional accents/ RP etc.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: dialect and discrimination in the US
From: Jack Campin
Date: 02 Sep 15 - 09:07 AM

(Previous reply got eaten).

Except country & western stars now make fortunes and are idolized.

But C&W stars mostly don't speak the accents they grew up with - the industry standardizes them into a sort of nondescript average Southern. It's the same process as the way actors from all over the UK end up speaking RP.

The Queen has adapted her accent to the times as well. She sounds nothing like whe did when she first came to the throne. She could sound like Tammy Wynette with no more vocal coaching than it took Tammy Wynette to sound like Tammy Wynette.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: dialect and discrimination in the US
From: Lighter
Date: 02 Sep 15 - 09:34 AM

> mostly

But many do. Try Elvis (admittedly not C&W), from Tupelo, Miss., and Reba McEntire, from McAllester, Okla.

And AAVE-speaking hiphop stars make fortunes too.

I think that accent discrimination is mostly a factor in first impressions. The more strongly somebody's accent suggests a familiar stereotype, the more likely the speaker will be stereotyped.

Getting past the first impressions. of course, can be difficult, particularly in vital job interviews. The interviewers don't usually know anything about dialect research.


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