Is my accent a crime?

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Aug 1 23:19:54 UTC 2010

I'd like to know more about this law before I comment.  How is it worded and
what does it mean by "English"?  English as a second language?  English as
literary study? Junior high-school English? Grade-school English?

As Michael notes anyway, "accent" and "grammar" are entirely different

The point of my earlier post was not to support the law, but to mock the
title of the essay.  Why bother?  Because it's another example of one of the
newly indespensable techniques of  news commentary. They are:

Changing the topic in midstream
Scoring debating points at all costs

(Did you catch the hyperbole in my own words?) They've always been around,
but now they seem to be in real demand.

Besides the title, there's the hyperbole of calling Arizona a "police
state." Last time I looked, the State and Federal Constitutions were still
working fine. The immigration law, for example, may never go into effect.
And if it does, as I noted some weeks ago, it seems not to give the police
any more power than they've always had.

Emotion-laden political topics don't need to any
rhetorical turbocharging. Case in point: illegal immigrants actually pay
taxes just like everybody else. What's more, if they have jobs and are not
paid in cash, they're also paying the equivalent of a stiff fine for being
illegal.  If you didn't know that, it's because there's been too
much commentary BS and not enough factual reporting.

But I digress. I suppose Tom's point is that the heads of the nation's
English departments should all have English accents. I prefer Cockney,
myself, but I guess any of them is better than what we speak here.


On Sun, Aug 1, 2010 at 6:32 PM, Michael Covarrubias <mcovarru at>wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Michael Covarrubias <mcovarru at PURDUE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Is my accent a crime?
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Aug1, 2010, at 6:06 PM, Tom Zurinskas wrote:
> > I went to a universty to talk to linguists.  The head of the department
> had a German accent.  She taught German.  The French teacher had a French
> accent.  The Spanish teacher had a Spanish accent.  Possibly it's a good
> idea to get native speakers of a language to teach it.  Or maybe it's a
> crime not to?
> >
> how many students in arizona are learning to actually speak english from
> their teachers. not reading, writing, spelling or learning an academic
> register, but basic language vocabulary and structure?
> your comparison is flawed, even if we were to accept that native speakers
> are the best language teachers for adult students (and i don't accept that)
> what students are learning in college language classes is not analogous to
> what children are learning in elementary and high school english classes.
> michael
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