To get ahead in business, some foreign nationals – and Quebeckers – are taking accent-reduction courses. The article makes it clear that the goal is to be understood, not to erase your heritage.
And along comes a vizmin academic to, in essence, dispute the premise.
Roland Sintos Coloma, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Integrative Anti-Racism Studies, finds the concept of reducing accents disturbing.
“This speaks to a certain kind of linguistic racism,” Prof. Coloma said, adding that the idea of “making North American customers comfortable is silly, especially when you consider that there isn’t even a standard Canadian English accent. A person who lives in the Atlantic provinces will not sound the same as someone from the Prairies or Ontario,” he noted.
The easy answer to that is “Yes, they will.” You could barely make the case that Newfoundland or Ottawa Valley accents are sometimes distinguishable, but Canadian English is unusual in its uniformity and its paucity of variations. As such, our dialect yet again differs from British, American, or even Australian.
I asked Coloma on what objective basis he made that statement and got no reply. As such I was not able to ask a follow-up question about whether or not he was making a statement about how the Canadian accent is somehow white hence racist, despite the fact that accent and race are causally unrelated.