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English with an Accent: Language, Ideology and Discrimination in the United States Paperback – May 25, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0415114776 ISBN-10: 0415114772 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews

Review

...a sobering account of the manifestation of language prejudice and discrimination in American society.
–Teaching Tolerance

...exciting new book...The volume is highly readable, and it offers new evidence of the relationship between ideology and language within institutions such as the media, the courts, and the entertainment industry. In addition to being useful to researchers in the fields that deal with language and society, the book is well suited for beginning graduate or upper-division undergraduate classes.
Language in Society

Badly needed and of greatest importance.
–Roger Shuy, Georgetown University

About the Author

Rosina Lippi-Green is Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1st edition (May 25, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415114772
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415114776
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #805,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Karen Chung on July 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book does a good job of calling attention to, examining and exemplifying the problem of language discrimination in the United States. This is of course very positive as far as it goes. I have, however, a few minor comments on how this study might have gone further:

(1) The author doesn't discuss the issue of varying levels of intelligibility of accents. All accents are not created equal. Some are easier to understand, others present real comprehension problems. For example, an accent that has consistent vowel values (say, a French or Swedish accent) tends to be easier to understand than one with unpredictable vowel values (some varieties of Chinese English, such as Taiwan English, are notorious for this, and can be quite difficult to follow). Non-Englishlike prosody, e.g. failing to stress new and important information, but then putting stress on less important function words like "to" and "her", can really confuse a listener. And the more of a burden you put on the listener, the less patience you can expect from them.

(2) I disagree with the author that European accents are "never" the target of discrimination. You find them made fun of in all kinds of 19th and 20th century literature, e.g. Sinclair Lewis's _Main Street_ (which parodies immigrant German and Swedish accents in Minnesota in the 1910s). Notably, it is farmers and other humble folk who are often the targets of such parodies.

The author is thus right in zeroing in on *power* relations as the key issue, probably even more than intelligibility. We are less willing to work hard to understand someone who is viewed as less powerful than ourselves or the group we identify with, and tend to be more patient with those we look up to.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By "ctdicanio" on August 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book explores the many issues surrounding language ideology and discrimination in the United States through providing a thorough discussion and empirical examination of the subjective issues which so often permeate such a loaded topic. It is an excellent read for anyone who is seriously interested in either language or subordination or both. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in Pluralistic perspectives in America. Well-written and comprehensive.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Juge on October 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is an excellent treatment of the complex issue of how discrimination is enacted and perpetuated by linguistic means. Lippi-Green examines in detail specific cases from a number of sources to show that bias is often disguised even from those who show it.
Though the book is at times on the technical side, Lippi-Green makes very good use of analogies likely to make this important topic clear and accessible to a wide audience.
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Format: Paperback
First published in the late Eighties, ENGLISH WITH AN ACCENT shows how discrimination still persists in the United States against those who speak English 'differently' - whether they be African-Americans, Latinos, white Southerners or immigrants from other territories. The book shows how that discrimination is continually reinforced through the media - in Disney films, for example - as well as through comments casually delivered in both work and domestic contexts by Anglos. Whenever they claim not to understand someone, and hence deny them employment, they are perpetuating that discrimination. The book does not offer any convenient solutions; but each chapter concludes with a series of study questions, designed to encourage readers to discover how and why discrimination is perpetuated, and whether any strategies can be formed to counteract it. It seems that the best solution is from the bottom-up; to encourage readers to think more carefully about languages, and how the status of 'standard' American English in education (for instance) might be rethought.
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