Linguistic Profiling

One way you can tell if someone is from New York or not is how they pronounce Houston Street. If you read it as hew-ston”, like the city, then you’re not a local. New Yorkers know its actually pronounced, house-ton”. 

This is an example of linguistic profiling. A way of determining what group someone falls under based on how they speak. As humans, we can’t help but to constantly profile people. We are profiling people based on their appearance, how they dress, and how they speak. 

I remember the last time I traveled to the Philippines with my family. During taxi rides, my parents would tell me and my sister not to talk. Talking would reveal our Canadian accent, and suggest that we are foreigners, and they’d hike up the prices as a result. The fact that we spoke English fluently without a Filipino accent, elevated us against Filipinos that spoke English without an accent.  

Raised in Toronto, a highly diverse city, I was surrounded by friends and their families with accents from around the globe. Accents represent linguistic and cultural adaptability, and I deeply respect those who are multilingual, unlike myself who struggles with speaking just two languages.

March 6, 2024

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