foreign instructors

Anthea Fraser Gupta A.F.Gupta at
Thu Apr 7 14:56:18 UTC 2005

> On the question about ordinary Americans talking about their
> accents--yes, stigmatized accents (New York, southern) are
> discussed, mocked, ridiculed. Others not so much...  But the
> idea that Brits are more tolerant is new to me--we get the
> impression that there's a lot more fussing out class
> accents--like the fact that Mrs. Thatcher was hated (?) for
> her "fake" Oxbridge accent, which she hadn't acquired rightfully.

Well, Mrs T was loved by some and hated by some. There was a lot of
mockery for her accent which was indeed seen as fake genteel (I don't
think it was perceived as Oxbridge).

I think it's complicated in the UK and, my IMPRESSION (how would one
demonstrate this scientifically?) is that it's less monolithic than the

Posh accents (like the queen's) get made fun of a lot (in cartoons the
queen is usually portrayed as saying 'ay' and 'may' not 'I' and 'my' and
'het' not 'hat'). In studies of stereotypes people consistently dislike
Birmingham accents, think London accents make people sound dishonest,
and think people from Newcastle are warm (etc.).  There is a tremendous
amount of fussing about accents and people are placed very precisely in
social and geographical space: people who speak like what they are not
are problematised. But because people do come from different social and
geographical spaces not everyone shares the same prejudicial systems, so
everyone gets to look down on someone else.

I just have this feeling there's a single attitude system in the US and
multiple ones in the UK.


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Anthea Fraser Gupta (Dr)
School of English, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT
NB: Reply to a.f.gupta at
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