How much truth is there in the claim that people are judged by their accents?
Your phone is ringing, you don’t recognize the number who is calling you. You pick up the phone and the first thing you hear is a foreign accent talking to you: ‘Hello, may I ask you a question?’. You hear it’s a male voice with a Turkish accent… People immediately have some thoughts about this person and will relate him to a certain image they have of these people with this accent. Many people don’t trust it when they are called by such a person. But now imagine the same is said to you but then by a nice woman who has got an British accent..
There is much truth in the claim that people are judged by their accents. Most of the people relate an accent to the kind of people who also use this accent. That way they create a certain image of this person, without even knowing this person’s character. Even when they haven’t seen the person they have a certain image of this person, which means they judge them in some way. Take the example of the telephone, most of the people will trust the British accent instead of the Turkish accent. They judge these people by their accent.
But it doesn’t have to be a foreign accent. People also associate accents with authority and status. You can take for example an RP speaker. When you hear an RP speaker, you will immediately relate this to the ‘upper’ class, wealth and with people who have a high status. But if there is someone who speaks with a regional dialect, you will relate this to the region where this person comes from. If people have a positive view of this countryside, they will react positive to the speaker as well.
When people have an accent it may encounter positive or negative discrimination due to their accent. Call centres employ people who have a certain accent, because they think their businesses will benefit from that. But there are also examples that when people have a certain accent they are more likely to be suspected from...