Language Gate-keeping

Language gate-keeping occurs without most people even realizing it. Whether its restricting access to educational opportunities, work opportunities and advancement, or social interactions, how people perceive language and the use of language by others affects a person a lot. Some have historically used language as a gatekeeper for education. This might come about from requiring the use of a specific language in order to receive an education (Native American children forced to use English and not their native tongue at schools). It might also be enforced on students who want to take advanced learning classes, such as student speakers of African American English. These same students might even be denied a “normal” education by being forced into special education classes because of their dialect.

Speakers of specific dialects or languages might also be barred from serving in governmental positions because of how others perceive them. They might be denied the chance to serve in office, to address their representatives, or be employed by the government in some fashion. Restrictions to employment is of course an issue experienced in the general working public real as well.

A fatal shortcoming in looking for these barriers is assuming that these discriminatory and gate-keeping activities are consciously being done – rather they occurs at the individual and governmental levels without realizing it most the time. That is not to say that certain linguistic features and dialects haven’t been actively made targets of immoral propaganda but the everyday layperson is not liking to be thinking of such things when creating such unintended gates. By actively educating people on both sides this can be prevented or stopped. What I mean by both sides is to educated those who speak specific dialects to know what their rights are and the fact that there is nothing wrong with the way they speak. It’s also important to inform potential gatekeepers about these issues. Often awareness or realization is the first step to fixing a problem.

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