Atinkoriko wrote:With all respect, I will strongly disagree about the Brummie accent. It is rather illogical to look at a survey that shows that the Brummie accent is strongly discriminated against and then produce the argument that people wouldn't discriminate against foreigners with Brummie accents.
I'm not saying that at all. I'm saying that in my experience a mild Brummie accent is not discriminated against. When you say "Brummie", people think of a strong accent. Now it is a very ugly thing, but strong
local accents in general (and a strong Brummie accent more than most) are associated with low levels of education in the UK (because until very, very recently it was essential to weaken your local accent if you had any pretensions to a prestigious job and even today it is still an advantage) and so in practice people are simply forming stereotypes to use as rules of thumb.
I'm not going to argue that this is OK, because it isn't; it's a very ugly and unfair thing; but it's not irrational
, because 7 or 8 times out of 10 it is correct (although increasingly less so and I my subjective impression is that such prejudices are starting to weaken to reflect that). That's the nature of heuristics.
Atinkoriko wrote:You're assuming two things here. First, that the people doing the discriminating would even know that he's a foreigner.
In practice people always ask you where you are from, they are interested in that. I've never known someone for more than a few days without finding that out. I think it's a fair assumption that 99 times out of 100 people will know you are a foreigner.
Atinkoriko wrote:Secondly, that they'd be able to override the instinctive feelings of prejudice even if they knew he's a foreigner. Even if I overlook the first assumption, the 2nd one falls flat precisely because of the very nature of prejudice. Prejudice is, by it's very definition, irrational. What you're proposing is that such a prejudiced person, who views native Englishmen with Brummie accents as unintelligent, would suddenly make a rational U turn and provide a benevolent exception to his prejudice when it comes to non native speakers.
Prejudice is always ugly and unfair; but isn't necessarily more irrational than any other heuristic (see above). I guess it seems that way because the most well-known examples (racial and sexual prejudice, etc) are
irrational (but hardly surprising given the sheer volume of subtle propaganda people were exposed on these subjects until just a few decades ago). If people are using strong local accents as a probabilistic marker of low education level, they are not going to apply that to foreigners. Sadly, I know people have other prejudices regarding the probable education level of immigrants from different foreign countries that they will apply and (again) they are both staggeringly unjust and more-or-less useful rules of thumb. I must stress that even though I am arguing that it is not irrational, I totally agree that this is not OK.
As for your argument about George Osbourne being a special case as with regards to discrimination towards RP users, I'll not press the point further but simply present a new example : One showing a BBC presenter who was sacked for 'sounding too posh'. What is ironic is that, as a self described 'mixed -race South Londoner: half Pakistani, half-English from an ordinary background', *she is neither 'overprivileged' or 'disingenuous' but is discriminated against nonetheless.http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/ ... r-BBC.html
If discrimination of any kind is unjustified, then by extension discrimination against RP users is unjustified. You can't say 'You're discriminating against me by using this accent so I'm justified in discriminating against you'
I'm not saying discrimination against RP speakers is justified, not at all; I'm saying it's very rare in the UK. Very rare indeed (and occurs in limited circumstances where being liked by the general public is important). Now that story above is a very sad case, but the very fact that is newsworthy tells its own story because as of when I left the UK last December, I knew of not one single case of a TV presenter (who wasn't a professional comedian) with a strong regional accent! Even the local news in Sheffield, which was consciously trying to appear local, had presenters with mild
It is also very telling that a very intelligent and successful woman had found it advantageous to adopt RP in the first place (if she had an "ordinary" background, she will not have grown up speaking it). Advantageous right up to the point were being liked by the public became a more important factor than being respected by other professionals in the industry. That ought to give pause for thought.
Anyone who thinks that discrimination against speakers of RP is a major problem in the UK is either not from the UK or lives in an overprivileged bubble. Contrast that with prejudice against speakers of strong regional accents, which is a major problem.