Speaking Allowed? Workplace Regulation of Regional Dialects
The ideological nature of verbal hygiene practices which promote standard English over non-standard varieties through prescriptivism and appropriacy has been discussed by Cameron (1996). Research conducted into linguistic diversity and the social meanings this had for Scottish respondents found that although they bought into the ideology of spoken standard English, believing their dialects were inferior to standard varieties assumed to be spoken by powerful elites, many believed that their sense of authentic identity was threatened by a requirement to speak 'appropriately' in certain work situations. In other words, linguistic diversity may not be tolerated in particular work environments where the 'customer is sovereign'. In Bourdieu's terms, respondents anticipated a low evaluation of their linguistic capital within the linguistic market. In this paper, I argue that the discursive framing of notions of appropriacy embedded within informant discourse revealed dilemmas of identity maintenance which are not congruent with contemporary management discourses of excellence which advocate that it is necessary to change the values, norms and attitudes of employees (and potential employees) if they are to make the 'right' contribution to the success of the organisation. If speakers choose not to accede to the ideology of appropriateness, does this mean that their individual life changes will be affected, and if so is this a form of linguistic discrimination against them? I explore examples of data collected in Scotland to illuminate our understanding of the relationship between linguistic diversity, community, national and self identity.
Keywords: Identity, Standardisation, Attitudes, Discourse of Excellence, Linguistic Capital
Dr. Elizabeth Eustace
Senior Lecturer, Cardiff School of Management, University of Wales Institute