Why is there still so much prejudice towards working-class accents? | Dreda Say Mitchell
Crime novelist and broadcaster Dreda Say Mitchell says that prejudice against working-class accents must go
Its in the nature of appearances on broadcast media that you can expect a little criticism from listeners and viewers, and over the years Ive had my share. Ive been accused of fascism and communism, of saying too much, or too little, and of letting other guests get away with it. But throughout, there has been one constant theme: why do Irefuse to speak English properly?
In particular, tweeters and emailers want to know why I drop the letter G off the end of the present continuous and why I cant pronounce the dental fricative or th sound as its known to the rest of us. Ive heard other members of the dwindling band of broadcasters from humble backgrounds report similar experiences. The Labour MP Angela Rayner revealed at the weekend that on social media shes been called thick because of her northern accent. And this is the real question being posed here why are they bringing working-class types into studios to comment on respectable peoples business?
For decades linguists, academics and agitators have been providing helpful answers to that question, and on one level these efforts have been a success: class prejudice is now deemed to be as unacceptable as any other kind. But supposed social progress can often be an effective way of disguising whats really going on under the surface. There are still many people in this country who dont understand that language is a means of communication, not a symbol of social status and that the working class includes some of the most intelligent, articulate and witty people in our society.