On Wed, Oct 17, 2012 at 3:32 PM, And Rosta <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Mike S., On 17/10/2012 20:27:
>  The point that I was trying to make here is that speaking is a part of
>> being competent in *some* professions in a way that skin color is not.  If
>> a given human resources manager is responsible for hiring technical
>> support
>> personnel who spend most of their time talking to frustrated customers,
>> then surely it's reasonable (for everyone involved) to favor hiring the
>> person who speaks the idiom of a majority of the customers.
> Because dialect differences would give frustrated customers something
> extra to get angry about, or because dialect differences would interfere
> with communication? I don't think dialect differences necessarily impede
> communication (Is "you was" really harder to understand than "you were"?).
> As for the other reason, in Britain most telephone call-centres are in
> India, but complaints-handling call-centres (and even call-centres in
> general) for more upmarket firms tend to still be in Britain-- but I think
> the basis for this is pandering to the unreasonable prejudices of the
> customers.

Many people in the US have more trouble with differing dialects than Brits
might, AIUI, possibly owing to the relative homogeneity of US English.  I
have seen subtitles and overdubbing quite often in US shows for people
speaking English, even for native speakers with unfamiliar dialects (once
for a woman speaking with what appeared to be Hiberno-English, IIRCC).
 Most people I have heard complain about Indian call-centers have cited
communication difficulties, though I don't think I've ever had a problem.
 (For the record, I am American.)

>  Likewise, wherever I go in the USA, I expect the local evening news
>> to be delivered in the local regional accent.  It would be odd to
>> visit Indianapolis and hear the weather forecast on the radio given
>> in a Chinese accent (even an intelligible one).
> If I were to read the evening news in New York, ought I to adopt a New
> York accent? (My natural accent is RPish.) Or ought I to be ineligible for
> being a local evening news reader in the USA?

There is a sort of bias here -- people might hire you as a newsreader
partly *because of* your British accent.  Many British dialects,
particularly those close to RP if the average American even knew the term,
have a certain caché in American culture.  They're seen as posh and
intellectual.  Of course, they can also be characterized as snobby, which
is how British-accented villains end up in our films.  So, the way things
ARE involves a bit of discrimination.  I think in general our news
organizations will prefer people who speak the standards of the white
Anglophone countries (US, Canada, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, maybe
South Africa), then maybe native varieties from those countries, and
finally perhaps Indian English and other non-white native varieties (though
that may be rather rare, partly because the ignorant public doesn't
recognize those varieties as native).  They probably won't hire anyone with
a noticeably non-native accent, unless we are talking about public radio,
which is much more egalitarian.

>  There are pros and cons to having a standard dialect, but overall on
>>> balance I think it is a really really bad thing. The standard is the
>>> native
>>> dialect of the privileged and not of the disadvantaged and serves to
>>> entrench the privileged and the disadvantaged in their positions, and to
>>> reinforce attitudes and myths of superiority and correctness.
>> Interestingly, I don't think that all leftists and progressives have
>> regarded the standard dialect the way you do.  In fact I think many
>> leftists and progressives would view the standard as a great device for
>> equalizing and democratizing society.
> I know, and even some linguisticians I know and respect take that view. In
> general I think it's because of the genuine extreme levels of ignorance
> most people have about language, and in the case of the linguisticians
>  it's because of the inchoacy and immaturity of the politicolinguistic
> debate.

Because the standard is associated with high education levels, people
generally assume that teaching children the standard language is an
essential part of improving education.