Diagnostic Placement

thats the instructions that the teacher sent.  “The Biases We Hold Against the Way People Speak” By John McWhorter July 21, 2020 — Book Review of “How You Say It” by Katherine D. Kinzler Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg grew up with a solid old-school Brooklyn accent. She displays no trace of it in recordings of her work as a young litigator, but today, one can hear shades of it in her speech on and off the court. Why? Black English is often reviled as an indication of lower intelligence, and yet ever more, advertisers seek out voice-over artists with an identifiably “Black” sound. Why? Things like this do not surprise linguists who specialize in the intersection of language and sociology.

For example, they have found that people of the lower middle class, in settings where their speech is being evaluated, tend to speak more “correctly” than even upper-middle-class or wealthy people do. Justice Ginsburg’s suppression of Brooklyn vowels was a perfect example, as is the fact that having moved into a different class since, she subconsciously feels she has less to “prove.” Meanwhile, the Black English issue can best be explained through an experiment carried out in Montreal in the 1960s at a time when English was considered much more prestigious than French. Anglophone and Francophone Canadians were played a passage in English and a passage in French, unaware that the passage was being read by the same person. Both Anglo and French Canadians tended to think the English speaker was smarter, but that the French speaker seemed warmer and more friendly. This is why Black English can be associated with both dimness and approachability, and thus ideal to represent banks, insurance and medicines. Katherine D. Kinzler’s “How You Say It” addresses how people sound when they talk and its effect on how they are perceived… Kinzler’s main interest….. is in linguistic discrimination.

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Amid our discussions of racism, sexism and even classism, we don’t spend much time thinking about the ways we can be biased when it comes to how people speak. It is, however, one of the last prejudices permissible in polite society. As Kinzler notes, “Linguistic bias is…. practiced so frequently that people do not even realize when it is happening. Linguistic discrimination is seen as normal and typical, and because of this, it flies beneath the radar.” College students were played a recording of native, idiomatic English being spoken — by an Ohioan, in fact. When the accompanying photo was of an Asian man, the students heard the speaker of the recording as having an accent, but not when the photo was of a white man. Ultimately, the way we talk is largely out of our control, subject to as many outside forces as the ones that determine how we laugh or walk. We can make adjustments, but if we by chance accomplish…. so much self-control that our natural way never emerges, we have erased our very selves. “How You Say It” makes a crisp but comprehensive case…. that although our distaste for ways of speaking that differ from ours is baked into us, true civilization requires that we work against it as much as possible. Writing Directions: After reading the article excerpt, write an essay responding to the ideas it presents. In your essay, be sure to explain the article in your own words, stating the author’s most important ideas. After identifying what ideas you think are most significant, develop a response using examples drawn from what you have read, learned in school, and/or personally experienced to support your claims. Remember to review your essay and make any changes or corrections that are needed to help your reader follow your thinking. You will have the entire class period to complete your essay.

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