Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Does having an accent affect how people perceive you?

The case of an Arizona city council candidate who is challenging a court decision to strike her name from the ballot due to her English proficiency has revived the English-as-official-language debate, and it's raised other discussions as well. Alejandrina Cabrera has appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court over the lower court's decision, calling it an abuse of power and arguing that many of her would-be constituents in the border town of San Luis, Arizona speak primarily Spanish. Opponents of Cabrera, who was born in the U.S. but raised in Mexico, say she still needs better command of English to run for elected office.

However you feel about it, the debate has prompted an interesting essay from syndicated columnist Esther Cabrera, who wrote on VOXXI about how non-native English speakers' accents have a bearing on how they are perceived intellectually. She also refers to a well-reported 2010 study that ranked native English speakers higher than non-native speakers on a "truthfulness scale."

What do you think? From the piece:

It is undeniable that not speaking accent-free-English marginalizes those who have worked immeasurably to learn our complex tongue.

Well-documented studies over the past two decades have found that people who speak English with a foreign accent are perceived to be less intelligent, in general, and less professional in a workplace. Not only that, but in some instances listeners have even reported perceiving an accent where there is none because of skin color or facial features.

In 2010, a University of Chicago study found that a sample of Americans who were asked to listen to statements from native and non-native English-speakers thought that statements spoken with foreign accents were less truthful.

But those who are passionate about making English the official language of the United States cannot understand why anyone would be threatened by the premise that the country be bound by a single language.

Read more at: