"accent prejudice" favors Texans?

Yerkes, Susan SYerkes at EXPRESS-NEWS.NET
Tue Oct 29 19:38:30 UTC 2002

Dear ADS list friends:

First, thanks for all your great responses re: "Texas -- It's Like A Whole
Other Country" issue. I will be using some of your comments in an upcoming
column, and will certainly send it along via e-mail.
But meantime, I thought the story below (pasted in, and a link to the site)
might be of interest to some of y'all, as we say in San Antone. (We really
don't say "San Antone,"  FYI)
I liked the last graph, in which a fairly convincing-sounding neologism (or
just a goof-up  by whomever wrote this for WOAI Radio or Clear Channel, its
parent network)  -- "Percention."
I doubt it has been used as a word yet, but perhaps it could make a handy
contraction for a percent of perception, such as an opinion poll?
As in:  "An ounce of percention is worth a pound of cure."
Susan Yerkes
A Texas Accent Could Help You Land a Job
LAST UPDATE: 10/29/2002
Want to land that dream job? Then start polishing up your Texas accent.
Researchers at the University of North Texas recently selected people who
speak in ten distinct regional accents, Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama,
North Carolina, Minnesota, California, Boston, Chicago, and New Jersey.
They were given prepared statements to read, and read them in front of 86
managers, who judged them on the bases of qualities they would seek out in
they were hiring, including honesty, education, intelligence, and
Among the managers from Texas, the "Texas" speaker ranked first, and among
non-Texan managers the Texan ranked third, behind speakers from Minnesota
and California, giving the Texas candidate the overall highest score.
Researcher Dr. Dianne Markley tells 1200 WOAI news this may have something
to do with the fact that a Texan is in the White House.
"Leaders are influential in how we think about our spoken language," she
In all panels the speaker with the "New Jersey" accent ranked lowest, and
she says you can blame 'The Sopranos.'
"That New York, New Jersey should has often been tagged with that 'gangster,
mobster' connection," she said.
Markley described the 'Texas' accent as including 'dropping the "g" from
words ending in "ing"' and pronouncing "get" as "git." She says since all
speakers were asked to deliver a prepared test, regionalisms like 'y'all'
were not included in the consideration.
She says 'accent discrimination' continues to exist, despite the development
of a more national culture, shaped by television, over the past thirty
years, with speakers from Minnesota and Boston being rated as educated and
intelligent, while speakers from Georgia and Louisiana being considered less
intelligent and lazy.
"That's the main reason I did this study, to show that 'accent prejudice'
still exists, and to make people aware that that prejudice could be helping
you to make a bad decision," Markley said.
She points out that the public impression of accents changes through time,
depending not only on who is in the White House, but what role the
particular culture has on the national consciousness. Texas accents were
also very highly regarded in the early sixties, during the heyday of John
Wayne, who by the way was born in Iowa, and waned in the early eighties, in
the days of the hit TV show "Dallas."
She says the 86 'hirers' were not told which accent was being delivered by
which person, but she says the accents were generally identified, with the
New Jersey and Texas accents identified most frequently, and the California,
which Markley called the 'plain American' and Minnesota accent being less
readily identified.
"Unlike race or sex, it is still acceptable to discriminate against somebody
on the basis of accent," she says.
All of the 86 "hirers" in the test were men. Markley says the next step will
be to do similar research with women, and see if their percentions differ.

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