Non native speaker?

Fri Oct 25 02:07:04 UTC 2002

No offence to forensic linguists, but I believe NBC/ABC/CBS and other media
wouldn't make linguistic judgements without expert advice. Maybe I should
have made this more explicit. But the egg definitely is not on the face of
Tom Brokaw or his staff. If I may be allowed another moment on what some may
consider my hobbyhorse, the moral of this story is _The Native Speaker is
Dead!_ It is just a shibboleth. But long live the native speaker.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Beverly Flanigan" <flanigan at OHIOU.EDU>
Sent: Thursday, October 24, 2002 5:46 PM
Subject: Re: Non native speaker?

> I haven't been home since this morning, so maybe this has already been
> discussed by the media, but isn't it likely that what the officials heard
> as an "accent" or "broken English" in the "garbled" phone calls was simply
> Jamaican Creole?  We can speak of a "written accent" too, usually both
> cultural and linguistic, which might explain the unfamiliar "Dear Mr.
> Policeman," etc.
> At 11:41 AM 10/24/2002 -0400, you wrote:
> >At 11:04 AM -0400 10/24/02, David Bergdahl wrote:
> >>Now that the pair in custody are black males, where does that leave the
> >>"expert"?
> >
> >The stepson, who's Jamaican, apparently wrote some of the letters,
> >using what are now (on CNN) described as references to Jamaican
> >locutions ("word is bond").  (There were also repetitions of *****, a
> >reference to a Jamaican reggae group of that name, I understand.)
> >Maybe this struck earlier analysts as Hispanic?  As for accent, hard
> >to reconcile.  Of course, there's the stepfather, John Muhammad (ne
> >Williams), US born and bred, a Gulf War vet, as well as the stepson,
> >either of whom could have been making the phone calls.  We'll know
> >more (or at least be told more), I suspect.
> >
> >L
> >
> >>
> >>--On Thursday, October 24, 2002 9:56 AM -0400 "THOMAS M. PAIKEDAY"
> >><t.paikeday at SYMPATICO.CA> wrote:
> >>
> >>>Last  night NBC Nightly News reported that it had been determined that
> >>>sniper is a "native speaker" of English, probably a Caucasian, with an
> >>>accent suspected to be Hispanic. The above judgement seems to have been
> >>>based on the sniper's written rather than spoken English. There is a
> >>>of verba volant (words fly) quality to the spoken evidence. But a
> >>>recording may be available.
> >>_________________________________________
> >>"We are all New Yorkers"
> >>       --Dominique Moisi

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