Teaching With a Kentucky Accent

Gordon, Matthew J. GordonMJ at MISSOURI.EDU
Thu Dec 5 02:42:30 UTC 2002

While I agree with the overall sentiment expressed, I think it's inaccurate (or wishful thinking) to claim that accent has NO bearing on the acceptance of one's speech. I think people are as willing to pass judgment on a person's character, intelligence, etc. based on that person's accent as on his/her/their grammar - at least that's the case with certain accents. 

Nevertheless, such judgments can work both ways. Couldn't it be argued that for a teacher in KY, a local accent might be a benefit? How would students and parents react to someone who comes from KY but sounds like they come from some place like Michigan (which is, of course, the source of the Network English accent; if you don't believe it, just ask the Michiganders.)

-----Original Message-----
From:   Stephani Hardin [mailto:sbmorr01 at MOREHEAD-ST.EDU]
Sent:   Wed 12/4/2002 5:25 PM
Subject:             Teaching With a Kentucky Accent

In one of the Education classes I took last Fall A Professor made a remark in
class that has bothered me to this day.  He said, "Some of you in here speak
with a heavy Eastern Kentucky accent, and you need to think seriously about
working on changing it if you want to teach English."  I find this to be both
offensive and judgmental.  An accent has no bearing on accepted forms of
speech.  (I use the word 'accepted' rather than 'correct', because on whose
standards do we even judge forms of speech)  To ask someone to change an accent
is ridiculous when you consider the fact that we all, regardless of where we
are from, have one.  This Professor displays a preference for one accent over
another, and he suggests I change something that is a part of who I am.  Why
should I compromise my heritage to suit the standards of someone with
linguistic prejudices?

Stephani Hardin

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