Specializations > Sociolinguistics

Need help identifying annoying speech pattern

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panini:

--- Quote from: Daniel on September 18, 2019, 12:41:24 PM ---Huh? It's a stereotypical feature of some British accents (though not all!), especially Cockney (the examples of "butter" as 'buh'er" or "water" as "wah-er" are well known by most English speakers, I'd think, and certainly linguists). It's relatively rare (but not unattested) in the US.
--- End quote ---
Setting aside debuccalization in [bʌʔə], prenasal debuccalization as in [ɹaʔn̩] is the overwhelming majority rule in the US. It does also happen in UK English, and there is a position that it's a Northern feature that has recently moved to London. I don't plan to yell "You're wrong!" about the geographical distribution of this rule, I just want to reiterate that it's a fundamental fact about US English.

But while we're on the topic, while it is true that there is no correlation between accent and intelligence, there is a correlation between dialect choice and professionalism. There is the same correlation between speech pattern choices and professionalism as there is between professionalism and other choices such as dress, cleanliness posture and snarkiness. Perhaps you disagree. The more cogent consideration in this case is simply that the claimed correlation does not exist (pending further details about the OP's social context).


Daniel:

--- Quote ---Setting aside debuccalization in [bʌʔə], prenasal debuccalization as in [ɹaʔn̩] is the overwhelming majority rule in the US.
--- End quote ---
I was referring to the more general phenomenon, which is more common in British dialects. Consonant clusters do work differently sometimes, but I believe also fall into the more general pattern where applicable. That would also be less perceptually salient, although you're right to emphasize that the two examples in the original post involve nasals, so perhaps that's more specifically what is going on here. (In that case, I'd emphasize even more that this doesn't matter, because it's less salient, and much more common.)


--- Quote ---But while we're on the topic, while it is true that there is no correlation between accent and intelligence, there is a correlation between dialect choice and professionalism. There is the same correlation between speech pattern choices and professionalism as there is between professionalism and other choices such as dress, cleanliness posture and snarkiness. Perhaps you disagree.
--- End quote ---
That's a problematic and complicated argument. Yes, some people do "posture" by changing their accent to appeal to others in professional settings, and yes, there are some widespread "expectations" i professional settings. But that does NOT mean that individuals with a different accent are less intelligent or necessarily less professional. Rather, it is a systemic problem, in part due to demographics, and in part due to perpetuating these beliefs so that it's generally seen as "OK" to judge someone by their accent. Something similar can be said about race, given statistical disparity in wealth distribution, etc. But from that you cannot say that an individual employee of a certain race is "less professional" or "less educated" or whatever. Statistics are misleading in cases like these, because they perpetuate stereotypes and confuse effect with cause. There is absolutely no reason that someone with a particular accent would not be an exemplary employee.

(As you say, the OP's social context is important to consider any further details, because another complication is the distinction between different kinds of identities expressed via accents, such as geographic vs. social class vs. peer group, etc.)

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