Colin Powell

Michael Newman michael.newman at QC.CUNY.EDU
Fri Sep 9 12:20:28 UTC 2011

I currently work with speech therapists. Look at the name of my department, "Linguistics and Communication Disorders." The notion of "accent reduction" kind of makes them squirm. The American Speech Language Hearing Association, has a policy against the kind of abuses discussed here. They are very clear that they are after disorders. However, "getting rid of NY accents" is a potentially lucrative business, though not as much as "getting rid of Korean accents." So both type of "accent reduction" are permitted when someone comes requesting it, kind of like the justifications that are sometimes given for reparative therapy. "If someone wants to change, that's their personal choice…" (except that the SLP people are more likely to be more successful).

And Arnold, you've done so much good…!!

Michael Newman
Associate Professor of Linguistics
Queens College/CUNY
michael.newman at

On Sep 8, 2011, at 11:37 PM, Arnold Zwicky wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at STANFORD.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Colin Powell
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Sep 8, 2011, at 5:31 PM, Alice Faber wrote:
>> Well, my father was screened and told he had to take the speech class
>> because of his "l defect" (which I think, on the basis of what he said,
>> was that he had dark l in environments where normative English had clear
>> l).
> many sighs.  my daughter was identified as having a speech defect because she had light l where dark l was normative.  at the same time, David Stampe's son was identified as having a speech defect for the opposite reason.  a phalanx of linguist parents prevented the kids from being subjected to speech therapy sessions -- but, as i recall, the marks against them went into their files.
> even after all these years, i weep.
> (both David and I taught many speech therapists-in training.  we feared that nothing we did in class had any effect on what they did in their lives.  tremendously dispiriting.)
> arnold, hoping that we had some small effect on small number of students, but still it makes me wonder what good i've done with my life
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