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Mark Abadi Jul. 8, 2018, 6:47 PM

・In the film "Sorry to Bother You," a black telemarketer finds success only after he starts speaking in a "white voice."
・The movie is rooted in science — linguists have long known that minorities face discrimination based on the sound of their voice.
・One linguist tried responding to local apartment listings using three accents — white, black, and Latino — and was offered more appointments when the landlord thought he sounded white.

この記事で紹介されていたのはJohn Baugh教授の研究。白人らしく話した方が賃貸物件の問い合わせで断れる確率が少なくなるとか。

While "Sorry to Bother You" may be a comedy, its premise is rooted in science. Language experts have recognized for years that people face discrimination not just based on their race but the sound of their voice — especially when they sound like a minority.

John Baugh, a linguist at Washington University in St. Louis, was the first to document the "linguistic profiling" some minorities face over the phone. It started in the late 1980s when Baugh, who is black, said he was discriminated against while searching for apartments in Palo Alto, California, where he was living as a fellow at Stanford University.

Baugh launched an experiment in which he made hundreds of phone calls to landlords who had listed apartments in the San Francisco area. He greeted each landlord with the same line: "Hello, I'm calling about the apartment you have advertised in the paper." But he didn't always say it in the same accent — he alternated between using an African-American accent, a Mexican-American accent, and his natural accent, what he called professional standard English.

Linguistic profilingなるものをBaugh教授が提唱したことはWikipediaにも載っているんですね。

Linguistic profiling
Linguistic profiling is the practice of identifying the social characteristics of an individual based on auditory cues, in particular dialect and accent. The theory was first developed by Professor John Baugh to explain discriminatory practices in the housing market based on the auditory redlining of prospective clientele by housing administrators. Linguistic profiling extends to issues of legal proceedings, employment opportunities, and education. The theory is frequently described as the auditory equivalent of racial profiling. The bulk of the research and evidence in support of the theory pertain to racial and ethnic distinctions, though its applicability holds within racial or ethnic groups, perceived gender and sexual orientation, and in distinguishing location of geographic origin.

Baugh's theory is distinct from linguistic profiling as defined by Hans van Halteren from the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands. Van Halteren's theory deals with the categorization of linguistic features for the purposes of author identification and verification from a text, not necessarily specifically addressing the socially defined categories within which they are included.[1]


For Baugh, the issue goes far beyond fair housing — it cuts to the heart of the American identity.

"Many of the people who engage in linguistic profiling and linguistic discrimination are descendants of people that came from someplace where English is probably not spoken. And some of their ancestors at one point in time, whether they came from Italy, Germany, Vietnam, or the Philippines, were subject to a form of linguistic discrimination," Baugh said.

"Accepting others who speak different than you do can potentially be a step toward healing divisions in the country."