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Language attitude and television broadcasting

After you had the chance to reflect on the example of a language attitude presented in the previous step, let’s now think about what we, as linguists, can take away from this message.

One thing worth noting is how the author of the email displays an awareness of accent variation and attitudes. In particular, the author understands that Steph’s speech sounds different from other accents more associated with television broadcasting. The author also seems to think that Steph is trying to adapt her speech to ‘better fit’ her profession by sounding ‘posh’.

Another thing to note is how the author believes that the word ‘here’ only has one acceptable pronunciation. This comment suggests that the author has a particular ideology, or belief, about language. Notably, more standard pronunciations may be thought of as more “accurate” than non-standard, or regional pronunciations. As we’ve already seen, in linguistics accents are treated as something which are inherently subject to change. Therefore, we would expect that words will be pronounced differently depending on the speaker’s background.

There are innumerable examples of language attitudes available to us as researchers - from our everyday interactions with others or comments posted online. By looking at real-world examples like this email, we can better understand the barriers that are faced by speakers when it comes to, for example, treatment in the workplace.

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This article is from the free online course:

An Introduction to Sociolinguistics: Accents, Attitudes and Identity

University of York

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