English with an Accent : Language, Ideology, and Discrimination in the United States book cover
3rd Edition

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

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after November 30, 2022
ISBN 9781138041936
November 30, 2022 Forthcoming by Routledge
370 Pages 98 B/W Illustrations

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USD $54.95

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents


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


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



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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