Immigrants are often ashamed of their accents or feel uncomfortable because of how they sound. Why? Because language is not just a tool, it contains a world of implied social and cultural norms, values, beliefs, and presuppositions. In many languages, there is one way of speaking it that is considered ‘proper’. I have read and heard people talk about ‘proper’ English, French, German, and so on. The notions we use to describe this ‘properness’ are sometimes openly revealing the prejudiced assumptions informing them. For example, ‘proper’ German is called Hochdeutsch which literally translates as High German.
Today, I share with you a short video by novelist, storyteller and women’s rights activist Elif Shafak. She explores the idea of accent and how it is experienced, drawing particular attention to the broader social underpinnings of how we relate to each other based on how we sound. Here it is: Are You Ashamed Of Your Accent? Enjoy!
Keeping up the “Spreading the Word” tradition, I hope to share an insightful and thought-provoking article, podcast episode or video every weekend. Humans have always turned and returned to storytelling to find meaning. My weekends’ “Spreading the Word” posts are an online version of sharing meaningful stories.
keep exploring and storytelling!
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Image credit: Photo by McGill Library on Unsplash