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Language discrimination is the unequal treatment of an individual based on the characteristics of their voice, such as grammar, vocabulary size, and accent. The increasing Latino population has been a source of anxiety for the majority of white Americans. Whites see this exponential development as a possible source of the disappearance of English and the American way of life. As a result, whites have worked hard to prevent Latinos from using their heritage language, which has become discriminatory (Barret 180). Despite the fact that language inequality is being combated, it nevertheless persists in the United States. The linguistic profiling is as dangerous as racial profiling since it denies one the opportunity to have equal chances of getting a degree, employment, a place of residence and even healthcare because people use false general assumptions concerning a language in order to justify the judgements concerning race, origin, religion, ethnicity and regional affiliation than with communication and language. The two leading English dialects in Latino America that is, Puerto Rican and Chicano English are viewed as substandard. Besides, they assumed to have been highly influenced by African American English. This paper aims to discuss language discrimination with emphasis on the Latino community, and how it affects the members of the Latino community both in workplaces and institutions.
In the USA, strong bonds exist which tend to connect language and racism (Barret 178). The majority, who are the native whites, seemingly show discrimination towards the minority for instance the Latinos. The Latino, native, legal and illegal immigrants all face this discrimination. The root cause of the linguistic discrimination is their inability to fluently speak the language of the majority, which is English. Actually, the individuals who cannot completely speak this dominant language are stopped from being a part of the dominant culture, and this has resulted to a two-side culture. The two-side culture is whereby the speakers of native English oppress those who speak the alien languages such as Spanish.
Almost half of the Latino have experienced discrimination because of the way they speak. Race stereotyping using only the voice has been important in the process of employment in America (Kushins 4). The way of speech of a candidate contributes to the decision to hire the person or eliminate from thee applicants. Researchers argue that from one’s speech, it can be determine if the person is a white or white. The identification that the speaker is black limits his or her chance of getting employed eight times. Those who speak Standard American English are often assumed to be more educated and are accorded high employment status. The job seekers whose speech has a racial or ethnic accent are usually accorded a lower status than the ones speaking Standard American English. It is belief that the individuals who do not speak the Standard American English have a low socio economic status and are associated with negative traits such as laziness, sloppiness and low intelligence. Besides, they are not easily trusted. The above beliefs have often led to discriminatory actions towards the Latino even during employment (Kushins 15). The Latinos actually have lower education rates than the white Americans, and experience higher rates of unemployment. After the formation of equal employment opportunity commission, the cases against job discrimination based on language and accent rose by 500% within four years. Most of the Latinos are usually targeted unfairly at work because of their accented English or talking in Spanish. Most of the American companies insist on the speaking of English purely while at work, which has been a major form of language discrimination. Some employers go overboard and ban employees from speaking any other language other than English even during break time. There have been cases whereby employees have been fired due to language discrimination for instance, two receptionists were once fired at the Long Life Home Care Services Company raising complaints against a company directive that bane employees from using Spanish even during breaks. Employees were also fired in a manufacturing plant in Chicago for speaking Spanish at work.
In educational institutions in the US, the non-native English speakers teaching English have received a lot of students’ complaints (Subtirelu 37). The students consider the accents of these teachers to be foreign which they have a difficulty in understanding. As a result, some of the students have opted not to register for the courses taught by the teachers citing linguistic difficulties. It is so bad that in America, the non-native English speakers are discriminated upon to the extent that iconic associations are created between languages, race and even nationality so that each category can stand in effectively for the others. A such, the comments that are usually made about the non-native English speakers are not just about the language but also marks them as foreigners, both racial and national (Subtirelu 45). The comments and ratings of rate my professor has gained a lot of popularity such that even Forbes use it to rank the colleges and universities in the USA. The numerous complaints against non-native speakers have made their way to rate my professor where they receive very low ratings. The lucky Latinos employed in high positions such as the judges really have it rough trying to prove themselves. They feel the need to prove that they are equal to their colleagues, and there are circumstances when they still feel that they are linguistically poor due to the stereotypes. For instance, Sonia Sotomayor was appointed in 2009 by the president to the Supreme Court but she still felt insecure linguistically whenever they went to their Ivy colleges. This resulted from the feeling that she was sounding unpolished.
Language discrimination also occurs in schools when the teachers minimize the use of other languages in school except English. For instance, in Arizona, the teachers minimize the level of connection that the learners have with Spanish through policies that discourage Spanish language and culture in schools. This has resulted to isolation and psychological distress among the Latino children. Discrimination is structuralised or institutionalised through public policies and practices which segregate entire communities, and this is the case with the school policies which are against the use of other languages. In education institutions, there has been laxity and attitude regarding the knowledge and teaching of foreign languages such as Spanish (Zentella 624). There are strict measures to ensure that only English is taught and used within these institutions in America. Besides, other institutions such as the banks, courts, hospitals, and government offices among others only recognize the use of the language of the majority which is English. This places the Latinos who cannot speak English in a weird position as they are blocked from accessing most of the services offered by the institutions.
The Latino immigrants are often more affected than the native Latinos. They not only lag behind on the attainment of education and employment, nut also when it comes to asset acquisition. However, the native born Latinos are still less wealthy than the native-born whites. Similarly, the Latino immigrants compared to the whites (both immigrants and natives), are less wealthy. Like other immigrants, thee Latino immigrants arrive to the USA with various educational attainments, varying socioeconomic positions, and the social networks in the US. These are the key determinants of their starting points when they arrive, and they will shape their experiences, and also influence their achievements in terms of accumulation of wealth and socioeconomic status (Painter & Qian 152). Having a good command of English determines wealth accumulation as it paves way for access to better jobs which potentially pay higher income. In addition, English language command gives room for actively participating in the financial institutions in US. Having a good language command enables familiarity with the institutions’ customs, makes communication with the financial personnel easy, and rings great comfort when within the financial settings (Painter & Qian 154). Besides, the Latino immigrants with English proficiency are taken more seriously, and easily accepted in the society.
The language discrimination in institutions or within workplaces have negative effects on the Latino families, more so the immigrants. Due to the language discrimination, they are not in a position to get well paying high end jobs, thus, are likely to make less money. As a result, the probability of children of immigrant Latinos being raised in poverty is high (Fiske 1). The long hours that the parents will have to spend at work to increase their earnings also affects the development of the children. Due to the language discrimination, employees who do not have strong command of English have a rough time getting salary increments or promotions at their work places.
Language discrimination by sneering, mocking, belittling, and even laughing at the non-English accents, nonstandard dialects and languages causes a lot of injuries that the public do not know about. Actually, as children grow up, they learn that the real Americans only speak using the Standard English and not any other dialect or language. Awareness should be done, more so, by the Latino scholars to the general public that linguistic discrimination is negatively affecting the non-native English speakers and that it should stop. Besides, negative connotations should be discouraged. All the nation’s languages should be viewed as diverse riches that make the nation what it is. The key institutions should also embrace the use of other languages besides English to curb language discrimination despite the fact the official language may be English the employees should be allowed to use the languages they are comfortable with during break times.
Kushins, E., R. Sounding Like Your Race in the Employment Process: An Experiment on Speaker Voice, Race Identification, and Stereotyping. Race Social Problems (2014) 6: 237-248.
Barret, R. Language Ideology and Racial Inequality: Competing Functions of Spanish in an Anglo-owned Mexican Restaurant. Language in Society 35: 163-204.
Fiske, S., T. Look Twice. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/look_twice. Accessed on 2nd December 2017.
Subtirelu, N., C. Race and language ideology in students’ evaluations of mathematics instructors on RateMyProfessors.com. Language in Society 44: 35-62
Zentella, A., C. TWB (Talking while Bilingual): Linguistic Profiling of Latina/os, and
Other Linguistic Torquemadas. Latino Studies (2014) 12, 620–635
Painter, M., A., & Qian, Z. Wealth Inequality Among Immigrants: Consistent Racial/Ethnic Inequality in the United States. Popul Res Policy Rev (2016) 35:147–175
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