once more, with feeling: accent, dialect, language

Over at Smart Bitches there’s a long and winding conversation about various points in linguistics, particularly historical linguistics, accent, and the portrayal of such things in the written language. I put in my two cents, of course. But as the conversation gets more into details, I am having to resist trampling in there to set up my lecture podium.

So I’ll do it here.

Actually, all I’m doing is this: here’s chapter two (“The Myth of Non-Accent”) of English with an Accent: Language Ideology and Discrimination in the United States. You’ll need the ole standard Adobe Reader to open it.

It was written for an introductory course, so it’s pretty accessible — although the ground work set up in the first chapter is (of course) missing. English with an Accent is still used as the standard text in universities courses on the sociolinguistic nature of language variation in the U.S. Just to establish some credentials and/or perspective.

This chapter specifically addresses the definition and use of the word ‘accent’ from two directions. The first is L1 (First Language) — the way you speak your native tongue(s), and L2 (Second Language) — the way native language marks any language you’ll learn after (approximately) puberty.

For any linguists dropping by here, this is not meant to open up a discussion on the Black Box or the critical period (both of which I subscribe to, but don’t want to debate just here and now).

So if you’re interested, please have a look and post your thoughts.