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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: January ::
Re: Accents English
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0137  Tuesday, 22 January 2002

[1]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Monday, 21 Jan 2002 08:38:00 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0118 Re: Accents English

[2]     From:   Karen Peterson <
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        Date:   Monday, 21 Jan 2002 09:47:06 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0118 Re: Accents English

[3]     From:   Martin Steward <
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        Date:   Monday, 21 Jan 2002 18:27:26 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0118 Re: Accents English

[4]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 22 Jan 2002 09:53:00 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0118 Re: Accents English


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Monday, 21 Jan 2002 08:38:00 -0800
Subject: 13.0118 Re: Accents English
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0118 Re: Accents English

Lance, er, Larry Weiss, you had to know I'd get into this.

>"Gay pride" and "black pride" activists and feminists, for example are not
>likely to acknowledge that they are only saying that they are not ashamed
>of being
>gay, black or female (or some combination).  Instead of merely denying the
>bigoted slurs which have victimized them, they insist that they would not
>want to be straight, white or male, that it is better to be what they are
>-- that gays, blacks and women are in fact >superior to others.

Say, what?

I was with you until that last phrase.  It need not follow that
embracing your *blackness* or *gayness* means you believe are superior
to those unlike you.  If you grow up in a world that constantly reminds
you that you are different, and probably inferior, your options are to
fill with self-loathing, or embrace that which stigmatizes you.

I have always thought it goofy that anyone would be proud of being
black, gay, or anything else that can't control.  I'm not proud of being
white, male, heterosexual, or tall.  On the other hand, if I had a
lifetime of the world telling me there was something wrong with being
tall, as a way of shaking my fist at everyone with that attitude I'd
probably wear lifts, moose my hair up (the bit I have left), and get a
t-shirt telling the world I'm proud to be tall.  It is an understandable
(and irrational) reaction - and it does NOT mean I am better than my
friend Will, who is 5'4", or worse than my friend Mike, who is 6'7".

Superior?  Sure, I have met people who think their differences make them
superior.  I have met lots of people who do not.  What an absurd, and,
yes, possibly bigoted assertion.  Come on, Larry.  You should be better
than that, just as those who you describe should be better than that.

>This form of chauvinism, if expressed in a comparable way by
>heterosexuals, whites and men is called homophobia, racism and sexism.

You got that right.  Now it's time to get a mirror.

Mike Jensen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Peterson <
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Date:           Monday, 21 Jan 2002 09:47:06 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 13.0118 Re: Accents English
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0118 Re: Accents English

> But logic seldom correlates exactly with human
> behaviour.  "Gay pride" and "black pride" activists
> and feminists, for example are not likely to
> acknowledge that they are only saying that they are
> not ashamed of being gay, black or female (or some
> combination).  Instead of merely denying the bigoted
> slurs which have victimized them, they insist that
> they would not want to be straight, white or male,
> that it is better to be what they are -- that gays,
> blacks and women are in fact superior to others.

Some -- not ALL -- "pride" activists and feminists undoubtedly do this.
Further, it is possible to "insist" that one would not want to be
something else, without necessarily believing that what one is is
superior.  I wouldn't want to be a male, for example, but I don't
therefore believe that being female is somehow inherently superior.

> Black Studies programs justify their existence by
> finding and exaggerating cultural contributions of
> persons of African heritage or others who might be
> said to be such.  (Try telling a Black Studies
> graduate that Cleopatra was Greek and see what
> reaction you get. --
> Maybe Shakespeare is partly to blame for this.)

This is not the appropriate place for an argument about the relative
merits of black studies programs.  However, I think, again, that the
essential word "SOME" has been omitted.

In today's market-driven academic world, I think ALL university programs
(or at least those in the US, and alas, increasingly here in the UK) are
confronted with the unfortunate necessity of having to "find and
exaggerate" the cultural contributions of their chosen object(s) of
study in order to "justify" their continued existence.  I have been in
the position of having to (admittedly) exaggerate the importance of
Shakespeare when the administration of one of my past universities
wanted to remove the requirement that English majors take ONE
"Introduction to Shakespeare" course (the administration's argument was
that Shakespeare was "too hard" for the students, most of whom were
planning on becoming public school English teachers, and would thus run
counter to the local government's objective of graduating more
teachers.  Sigh.)

> This form of chauvinism, if expressed in a
> comparable way by
> heterosexuals, whites and men is called homophobia,
> racism and sexism.

True enough.  We should (as several of us have noted recently) combat
these things when we find them.  In the effort to combat them, however,
I think it's important to be fairly precise and to avoid sweeping
generalizations.

Karen Peterson

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
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Date:           Monday, 21 Jan 2002 18:27:26 -0000
Subject: 13.0118 Re: Accents English
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0118 Re: Accents English

This post is offered respectfully as a constructive rather than reactive
gesture:

Larry Weiss points out that the avatars of "Black Pride", "Gay Pride",
etc.  are actively pressing the superiority of their blackness, gayness,
etc. "This form of chauvinism", he concludes, "if expressed in a
comparable way by heterosexuals, whites and men is called homophobia,
racism and sexism". The reason these phenomena have been given such
staigmatizing names is that, in Europe and North America, a significant
minority have been adversely affected by these types of "chauvinism",
whereas very few have been adversely affected by "Black Pride", "Gay
Pride", etc. As always, the distinction is a simple matter of who wields
the power in a society; a simple matter, but not, for sure, one that
should be dismissed out of a misguided liberalism (or libertarianism).
Larry might have observed that the "chauvinisms" to which he draws
attention have indeed been lumped under their own  rubric - that of
"political correctness" - not by people who have been disenfranchised,
oppressed, or beaten up by "Black Pride", "Gay Pride", etc., but by
intellectuals whose hitherto unchallenged influence over cultural
politics has begun to be questioned by these alternative ideologies. I
accept Larry's point that two wrongs don't make a right; my concern is
that real injustices are perpetuated and legitimized while we look for a
right that might not be possible for us to attain.

m

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Tuesday, 22 Jan 2002 09:53:00 -0800
Subject: 13.0118 Re: Accents English
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0118 Re: Accents English

Mary Jane Miller says that

>The other thing about having a standard Canadian accent in Britain ( the
>majority of Canadians speak in the same accents as our broadcasters - we
>have few regional accents) which is still true  is that no one can place
>you in terms of class, geography, education etc.

Not entirely, though.  Newfies still have a certain reputation and
there's a reason that one of the country's most successful prime
minister's is still referred to as "the little guy".  I'm always rather
surprised by the variety of accents whenever I travel in Britain or the
United States, but it strikes me that regional variations could be used
a little more in Canadian Shakespeare productions than they are.

Jonathan Hope writes,

>As for present-day accents and their supposed qualities ('clarity',
>'harshness', 'music' etc), numerous linguistic experiments have shown
>that attitudes to accents are wholly learned behaviour - they have
>nothing to do with the phonetic reality of the accents.  It is not true,
>for example, that RP is inherently clearer or more easily understood
>than any other accent of English - rather its use by radio announcers
>meant that more people were exposed to it.

I'm wondering if the wider thesis (that all accents are equally clear)
is really supported by the example of RP.  Wouldn't a better example be
an accent which is really clipped, separating each word and syllable
with the utmost possible clarity?

Cheers, eh.

Se

 

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