Title

"P" for Pathology, not Accent: The Social and and Cultural Phenomenon of Accent Modification/ Reduction Programs

Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Artist Statement

Jean Jacques Rosseau once said, “The accent is the soul of a language; it gives the feeling and truth to it.” According to the Webster College Dictionary, the speech accent is “a mode of pronunciation characteristic of or distinctive to the speech of a particular person, group, or locality.” The accent, then, is inevitable, and an integral part of all speech communities of all languages. However, a curious phenomenon seems to suggest otherwise: accent reduction/modification programs, directed by certified speech-language pathologists (SLPs), are widely established in the United States since the 1980s. Why is it that SLPs are running these programs? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics describes SLPs as “trained professionals in assessing, diagnosing, treating, and helping to prevent speech, language, cognitive-communication, voice, swallowing, fluency, and other related disorders.” Speech disorders are typically caused by a range of disabilities related to cognitive, developmental, and speech-organ anomalies. These speech disorders do not pertain to matters of speech accents. However, many people who seek service from these programs are non-native English speakers who want help with reducing, even eliminating, their accent. But if accents are representative of the individualities of the speakers, and if the utterances are colored with a personality, an identity, and are envoys to our diverse and dynamic world, why do people want to have their accents reduced or eliminated? In what ways are the phenomena of accent modification/reduction programs shaped by the sociohistorical conditions, including colonialism, racism, and globalization? These are the questions I will investigate in this paper.

Location

University of the Pacific, Classroom Building

Start Date

5-5-2007 9:00 AM

End Date

5-5-2007 12:30 PM

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
May 5th, 9:00 AM May 5th, 12:30 PM

"P" for Pathology, not Accent: The Social and and Cultural Phenomenon of Accent Modification/ Reduction Programs

University of the Pacific, Classroom Building

Jean Jacques Rosseau once said, “The accent is the soul of a language; it gives the feeling and truth to it.” According to the Webster College Dictionary, the speech accent is “a mode of pronunciation characteristic of or distinctive to the speech of a particular person, group, or locality.” The accent, then, is inevitable, and an integral part of all speech communities of all languages. However, a curious phenomenon seems to suggest otherwise: accent reduction/modification programs, directed by certified speech-language pathologists (SLPs), are widely established in the United States since the 1980s. Why is it that SLPs are running these programs? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics describes SLPs as “trained professionals in assessing, diagnosing, treating, and helping to prevent speech, language, cognitive-communication, voice, swallowing, fluency, and other related disorders.” Speech disorders are typically caused by a range of disabilities related to cognitive, developmental, and speech-organ anomalies. These speech disorders do not pertain to matters of speech accents. However, many people who seek service from these programs are non-native English speakers who want help with reducing, even eliminating, their accent. But if accents are representative of the individualities of the speakers, and if the utterances are colored with a personality, an identity, and are envoys to our diverse and dynamic world, why do people want to have their accents reduced or eliminated? In what ways are the phenomena of accent modification/reduction programs shaped by the sociohistorical conditions, including colonialism, racism, and globalization? These are the questions I will investigate in this paper.