Linguistic discrimination

Linguistic discrimination (also called glottophobia, linguicism and languagism) is the unfair treatment of an individual based solely on their use of language. This use of language may include the individual's native language or other characteristics of the person's speech, such as an accent, the size of vocabulary (whether the person uses complex and varied words), modality, and syntax. It may also involve a person's ability or inability to use one language instead of another; for example, one who speaks Occitan in France will probably be treated differently from one who speaks French.[1] Based on a difference in use of language, a person may automatically form judgments about another person's wealth, education, social status, character or other traits. These perceived judgments may then lead to the unjustifiable treatment of the individual.

In the mid-1980s, linguist Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, captured this idea of discrimination based on language as the concept of linguicism. Kangas defined linguicism as the "ideologies and structures which are used to legitimate, effectuate, and reproduce unequal division of power and resources (both material and non-material) between groups which are defined on the basis of language".[2] Although different names have been given to this form of discrimination, they all hold the same definition. It is also important to note that linguistic discrimination is culturally and socially determined due to a preference for one use of language over another.

Linguistic prejudice

Nationalists on Corsica sometimes spray-paint or shoot traffic signs carrying the official toponyms, leaving only the Corsican language toponyms

It can be noted that use of language such as certain accents may result in an individual experiencing prejudice. For example, some accents hold more "Do You Speak American?", is that it depends on the location and the individual. Research has determined however that some sounds in languages may be determined to sound less pleasant naturally.[3] Also, certain accents tend to carry more prestige in some societies over other accents. For example, in the United States speaking General American (i.e., an absence of a regional, ethnic, or working class accent) is widely preferred in many contexts such as television journalism. Also, in the United Kingdom, the Received Pronunciation is associated with being of higher class and thus more likeable.[4] In addition to prestige, research has shown that certain accents may also be associated with less intelligence, and having poorer social skills.[5] An example can be seen in the difference between Southerners and Northerners in the United States, where people from the North are typically perceived as being less likable in character, and Southerners are perceived as being less intelligent. As sociolinguist, Lippi-Green, argues, "It has been widely observed that when histories are written, they focus on the dominant class... Generally studies of the development of language over time are very narrowly focused on the smallest portion of speakers: those with power and resources to control the distribution of information." [6]