I’ve had like, twenty emails this afternoon, people saying they heard me on NPR, and: the hell?

So here’s the skinny:

Every once in a while a journalist will do a human interest story on accent, so-called accent reduction, accent discrimination, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (which protects you against discrimination in employment on the basis of traits linked to protected categories.)

accent — native language — national origin

National origin is protected.

Language subordination and language discrimination were my areas of expertise when I was still an academic. Once in a while I get asked to be an expert witness in Title VII cases. Usually I just write a report and it ends there. Only once I actually had to testify. And once in a while a journalist calls.

I do telephone interviews maybe twice a year for radio programs, but mostly they are local and not national broadcasts. I haven’t even heard this one. I tend to avoid them because they condense a half hour interview into a few soundbites, and often (not always) what I was trying to say gets mangled.

So that’s that.


that’s not that. I just listened to the report. I feel the need to state publically what I just said to Richard Gonzales in writing:

[your report] was a nicely put together piece, but (you know that was coming) I find it unfortunate that the overall impression was that accent reduction classes are a viable proposition. The assumption that accent can/should be reduced wasn’t really questioned. My guess is that these action reduction people will get more business based on this report.

So again it’s a case of the people being discriminated against having to change, rather than any effort to educate and rehabilitate those who are doing the discriminating.