Do You Speak Hillbilly and Wish That You Didn’t?

You may have missed this item published by Inside Higher Ed in late July. Written by Colleen Flaherty, the article confirms Aaron Barlow’s earlier post to this blog that bias against hillbillies may be one of the last widely accepted and largely unchallenged biases in this country.

Here are the first two paragraphs of Flaherty’s “Doolittle Don’t”:

“The rain in Spain won’t be falling mainly on the plain after all, at least not at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The Tennessee-based research facility canceled what it had billed as a ‘Southern accent reduction’ class amid employee backlash; for some staff, it came off as a little too ‘My Fair Lady: Appalachia.’

“’Feel confident in a meeting when you need to speak with a more neu­tral Amer­i­can accent, and be remembered for what you say and not how you say it,’ reads an email sent to thousands of staff members last week, advertising the new course. ‘In this course you will learn to recognize the pronunciation and grammar differences that make your speech sound Southern, and learn what to do so you can neutralize it through a technique called code-switching.’”

The complete article is available at:


3 thoughts on “Do You Speak Hillbilly and Wish That You Didn’t?

  1. Remember the Ebonics controversy in the late 90s? Same issues. Of course, code switching and language switching are an everyday part of life on other continents. The human condition is multilingual — when will US-Americans understand that and join the rest of the world?

  2. Pingback: The Language and the Marketing of “Intelligence” | The Academe Blog

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