3rd Edition

English with an Accent Language, Ideology, and Discrimination in the United States

    370 Pages 98 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    370 Pages 98 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Since its original publication in 1997, English with an Accent has inspired generations of scholars to investigate linguistic discrimination, social categorization, social structures, and power. This new edition is an attempt to retain the spirit of the original while enriching and expanding it to reflect the greater understanding of linguistic discrimination that it has helped create.

    This third edition has been substantially reworked to include:

    • An updated concept of social categories, how they are constructed in interaction, and how they can be invoked and perceived through linguistic cues or language ideologies
    • Refreshed accounts of the countless social and structural factors that go into linguistic discrimination
    • Expanded attention to specific linguistic structures, language groups, and social domains that go beyond those provided in earlier editions
    • New dedicated chapter on American Sign Language and its history of discrimination
    • QR codes linking to external media, stories, and other forms of engagement beyond the text
    • A revamped website with additional material

    English with an Accent remains a book that forces us to acknowledge and understand the ways language is used as an excuse for discrimination. The book will help readers to better understand issues of cross-cultural communication, to develop strategies for successful interactions across social difference, to recognize patterns of language that reflect implicit bias, and to gain awareness of how mistaken beliefs about language create and nurture prejudice and discrimination.


    List of Figures

    List of Tables

    The International Phonetic Alphabet

    Preface to the Third Edition

    Chapter One: The pronunciation of difference

    Reproducing inequality

    Discourse structural racism

    Language ideologies

    Red summer

    Where we are headed

    Discussion questions

    Chapter Two: Language, categorization, and social identities

    Fifty shades of grue

    Only skin deep

    Sorting humanity

    Categories and cognition

    Is that a sandwich?

    Some basic semiotics

    Language and racialization

    Discussion questions

    Chapter Three: Things linguists know about language

    Facts about language

    Linguistic potential

    Variety is the spice of life!

    Are you a robot?

    So-called Standard English

    Communicative effectiveness depends on variation

    Discussion questions

    Chapter Four: Language subordination

    Reading a textbook: roles and responsibilities

    Rejecting the gift: the individual’s role in the communicative process

    Hesitance and uncertainty?

    Standard language ideology

    Confronting ideologies

    Discussion questions

    Chapter Five: Place-based variation in the American context

    The social meaning of place

    Regional varieties of American English

    Spread the word

    Vowels on the move

    Regional variation in morphology and syntax

    OMG! There's, like, so much more variation!

    Structured variation: the hidden life of language

    Discussion questions

    Chapter Six: Language, racialization, and racism

    No MSG

    Race, ethnicity, and linguistic variation

    Ethnicity-indexing variation: words and sounds

    Ethnicity-indexing variation: sentences and meanings

    No MSG, no lazy grammar

    Language, interaction, and ethnic inequality

    Language, race, appropriation, and whiteness

    Language is love

    Discussion questions

    Chapter Seven: Language diversity in the United States

    Estados Unidos no tiene un idioma oficial

    Language abundance

    Stolen childhoods

    Language ideologies and English public space

    Embracing bilingualism

    Discussion questions

    Chapter Eight: American Sign Language and deaf culture

    How people communicate

    What it means to be hearing

    Deaf culture

    Sign languages and American Sign Language

    Martha's Vineyard Sign Language

    Oralism vs. manualism

    Language ideology and deaf culture

    Ideologies within the deaf community

    Discussion questions

    Chapter Nine: Putting language on the map

    How we see the language around us

    Perceptual dialectology

    Linguistic landscapes

    The linguistic perception of the American South

    Kountry Livin’

    What it means to sound Southern

    Perceptions meet strategies of condescension

    Discussion questions

    Chapter Ten: A history of ‘r’ in the United States

    Meaningful, important, and arbitrary

    The remarkable letter ‘r’

    Rhotics: variety, terminology, and symbols

    American [ɹ] is wei(r)d

    Where did American [ɹ] come from?

    From non-rhotic to rhotic: American sound change in the first half of the 20th century

    Non-rhotic in Manhattan

    Discussion questions

    Chapter Eleven: The communicative burden in education

    The medium of instruction

    Invisible ideologies go to school

    The setting of goals

    Whose language?

    Appropriacy arguments


    Education as cultural assimilation

    How teachers talk

    How graduate students talk

    What the science tells us

    Discussion questions

    Chapter Twelve: Language use, media stereotypes, and fake news

    Storytellers, Inc.

    Teaching children how to discriminate

    Building on stereotypes

    Disney’s worldview

    Information literacy: beyond cartoons

    Echo chambers and filter bubbles

    Bad is stronger than good

    Discussion questions

    Chapter Thirteen: Language in the workplace

    Unwelcoming environments

    Sorry not sorry

    "This is America, speak English!"

    "Nobody can understand those people"

    "You sound so insecure when you talk the way I do"

    "You’re so much prettier when you’re not angry"

    White men talking

    Discussion questions

    Chapter Fourteen: Examining the American judicial system and housing

    Language(s) and the law

    Lost in translation

    Linguists as experts

    American housing problems

    Heard but not seen

    I had you at "hello"

    A human failing

    Discussion questions

    Epilogue: Teach your children well

    Honesty & equality & respect & linguistic diversity

    You must be carefully taught

    Our hope for you, dear reader




    Rusty Barrett is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Kentucky. His research is in Mayan linguistics, linguistic anthropology, and sociolinguistics. He is author of From Drag Queens to Leathermen: Language, Gender, and Gay Male Subcultures, co-author of Other People’s English: Code Meshing, Code Switching and African American Literacy, and co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Language and Sexuality.

    Jennifer Cramer is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Kentucky. Her research is in perceptual dialectology, with a specific focus on dialect variation in Kentucky. She is the author of Contested Southernness: The Linguistic Production and Perception of Identities in the Borderlands, co-author of Linguistic Planets of Belief: Mapping Language Attitudes in the American South, and co-editor of Cityscapes and Perceptual Dialectology: Global Perspectives on Non-Linguists’ Knowledge of the Dialect Landscape.

    Kevin B. McGowan is Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Kentucky and Director of the University of Kentucky Phonetics Lab. He is a phonetician, and his research primarily focuses on speech perception and the ways in which the creation and perception of social identities influence our ability to understand each other.

    The third edition of English with an Accent presents an extraordinary new resource created from a time-honored classic, taking the pieces of the original and elegantly intersecting them with 21st-century language practice. The original material is still there; however, it has been rewoven to include a broader semiotic realm, a deeper representation of language variation across multiple modalities, a richer set of theoretical and methodological approaches, and a new coherence rooted in the fact that language variation is simultaneously arbitrary and powerfully meaningful. As such, this edition sets a new standard for the presentation and discussion of linguistic discrimination.

    Robin Queen, University of Michigan

    With crisp prose and cogent arguments, the authors recreate the eye-opening impact of English with an Accent in light of recent movements for social justice, crafting activities, exercises, and discussion questions that directly help readers engage in questions of how language socialization works and how it affects our personal lives as well as our society’s future. 

    Kirk Hazen, West Virginia University

    Be prepared to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. This edition of English with an Accent hits home and will keep you engaged and engrossed in issues that society too often doesn’t understand in any meaningful and life-altering way. Well, the road to enlightenment is clearly provided here.

    Sonja Lanehart, University of Arizona

    Since its first publication, English with An Accent has inspired conversations that grapple with and challenge the ways people use language to recognize, categorize, and rank social differences. This latest version builds on this important foundation while providing significant updates to the coverage of topics and theory. Written in an engaging, provocative style, this new edition by Barrett, Cramer and McGowan is comprehensive and accessible. It will leave readers with greater insight into and critical awareness of the subtle role language variation plays in the maintenance of power today and the marginalization and on-going subordination of particular social groups, in the U.S. and elsewhere.

    Barbra A. Meek, University of Michigan