learning to speak "standard"

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Thu Feb 28 19:41:15 UTC 2008

On Feb 28, 2008, at 7:30 AM, Ron Butters wrote, in response to:

In a message dated 2/27/08 10:53:07 PM, hwgray at GMAIL.COM writes:

> The claim that mastering standard English as a teenager is a struggle
> is the one that's unreal. All that's necessary is the motivation and
> the opportunity,


> Motivation is a tricky thing, as we know from the earliest
> sociolinguistic
> studies (as well as from experience). Among adolescents, the choice
> can mean
> that one opts for being (or is psychologically driven to being) a
> "lame" in the
> classical Labovian sense. And there are things that are below the
> level of
> consciousness, too...

[anecdotes follow]

let me throw sexual orientation into the mix.  i've been corresponding
with a college student who describes himself as tortured by his gay
voice (so he's certainly motivated to learn to "talk straight"), and
who asked about speech therapists in his area, or even (omigod)
surgery.  i explained that there was almost surely no anatomical
source for his speech style, and that perhaps -- big perhaps --
therapists who dealt with "accent reduction" might be helpful.  (i
also forwarded to him a piece by ben munson, at umn, on pathology vs.
social indexing, written for speech-language-pathology folks rather
than for the general public.)

does anyone here know anything about accent reduction programs?  are
they, or at least some of them, effective in teaching speakers of
english as a foreign language to reduce their foreign accents, or in
teaching native speakers to code-switch?

arnold, who knows almost nothing about this world

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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