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Accent, dialect and Gender bias

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Accent is a distinctive way of pronouncing words and is usually determined by the person’s regional or cultural background or native language. Some accents are seen to be very aggressive, for example, the Glaswegian accent. Some other accents give the impression that the person is a bit slow for example, the Cornish accent. There are many different accents in Britain alone. Accents can change within a very small distance for example, in the midlands the Birmingham accent is very different from the Stoke accent.

By listening to somebody’s accent you can normally tell which part of the country they come from. Advertisements use accents in different ways depending on what they are trying to sell. For example, when a company is trying to sell a designer perfume they are not very likely to use a woman with a strong Glaswegian accent who sounds aggressive. They are much more likely to use a woman with a soft accent. (Class notes) Dialect Dialects are also regional and culturally effected; however, it is unique to the vocabulary or syntax.

Accents and dialects are connected for example; a Geordie dialect will be spoken with a Newcastle accent. Different people use different word to describe the same item throughout Britain. For example, in some areas people may ask for a soft drink, while in others they will refer to the same beverage as soda, pop cola or coke. Dialects can even be different in family members that live together. For example the younger generations dialect may be very different from the older generations making it hard for the older generation to fully understand.

However, most English-speaking people can switch between local dialect and Standard English. (Class notes) Gender Bias Women are thought to have soft and feminine voices while men’s tones are thought to be deep and masculine. Very stereotypical. When women are together in a group their voices are supposed to take on a shrill or cackling tone. Women’s tones are often thought to be like that of a child’s, whining or nagging. Men should have gruff, hard and even harsh voices. Men should speak roughly. However, this is not always the case.

Homosexual men are supposed to have very feminine voices but this is not always the case either. Women are thought to use words like, adorable, cute, lovely and sweet when describing people or objects while men use stronger words like ‘nice’. Women tend to be able to speak about their emotions and feelings more freely than men, but men are thought to use obscene and blasphemous language more often than women do. Many factors affect the way people speak including, topic, class, familiarity, age and status.

Both men and women often behave differently when in same sex and mixed sex groups. In mixed sex group’s men are thought to interrupt women, speak for longer and have more opportunity to speak. In same sex groups participation tends to be more balanced. Many more British working class men seem to use non-standard language as a badge of identity than women. Women tend to use minimal responses more often than men do. Men tend to talk about things they find important like football or politics where women find it easy to talk about anything no matter how trivial.

When we think of nurses we automatically think of a woman. When we hear about a soldier, pilot or lorry driver we automatically presume it’s a man. Many names for workers are gender bias. For example, postman, milkman, fireman and even ombudsman. (www. planetpapers. com) In the sporting world commentators tend to refer to football and rugby as men’s sport and refer to the players as young men or just men. In sports that are thought to be fine to include women, for example tennis, the commentators refer to the women as girls.

It seems as though it is expectable to refer to women as girls but not men as boys. (www. fair. org) Up until recently, before political correctness became a big thing, even children’s programmes on television contained gender bias. For example Thomas the tank engine. All the engines, including the bus and helicopter, were male but the coaches behind the engines were female. In captain pugwash all the pirates were male. More recently was Bob the builder where the woman, Wendy, sat in the office all day typing and answering the telephone and looking after Bob when he was ill.

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