Behind the Accent | Kashana Cauley
almost 2 years ago
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"Simply hearing an accent often isn’t enough to induce people to change their own; people usually have to feel a connection to the speaker to be inspired to change their own speech. It’s no coincidence that the cities affected by the GLVS are among the most racially segregated in the U.S. The accent was first discovered right around the time that African Americans, who don’t speak with it, started arriving north as part of the Great Migration. In a University of Pennsylvania research paper titled “Fear of a Black Phonology: The Northern Cities Shift as Linguistic White Flight,” Gerald Van Herk, a professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, found a strong connection between “participation in the NCS and the speed and degree to which communities increased their African American populations, as well as the degree of residential white flight[.]” He describes the accent as a natural consequence of an era when suddenly increasing black populations caused whites to focus on their commonality instead of their differences, as well as a linguistic method Midwestern whites developed to make sure they didn’t emulate their new black neighbors’ speech patterns."
Hm. I'll have to go looking for a more precise definition of the GLVS now (not bagging on the author, nobody can write a mass-market piece using IPA). She's being quite kind to Madisonian racial politics, which are OMG SO MUCH WORSE than she is letting on.
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