Is my accent a crime? (UNCLASSIFIED)

Mullins, Bill AMRDEC Bill.Mullins at US.ARMY.MIL
Mon Aug 2 13:54:51 UTC 2010

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On
Behalf Of
> Tom Zurinskas
> Sent: Sunday, August 01, 2010 3:07 AM
> Subject: Is my accent a crime?
> Arizona has decided that it's unacceptable to have teachers
> whose spoken English is deemed to be heavily accented or
ungrammatical, even
> though the latter has little to do with the former.

Anyone who has gone through an engineering curriculum at a state school
in the last generation probably has horror stories of trying to
understand a lecture given by a non-native born grad student whose
accent was so thick as to make communication impossible.  I know I do.

The idea that the teaching of English to those who can't speak it should
be done only by people who _can_ speak it, clearly and well, with a
native accent, is not all that draconian a restriction.

> That prohibition led the great Andrei Codrescu, an author who taught
> for 40 years but who came from Romania, to wonder out loud on NPR,
"Did I land
> back behind the Iron Curtain half a century ago?

"Not being able to get paid to teach English if you have a thick accent"
= "behind the Iron Curtain"?  Overreact much?

> Yet what is an accent?

If the original author doesn't know the answer to this question, then
there are probably multiple reasons he/she shouldn't be teaching

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

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