The Dream of Impactful Changes

Continuing from an in class discussion on language discrimination – do we feel as American English and linguistics students that the work we will go out and do will have the large impact that is hoped for by the community of linguists? While I do not believe that there will never be a day that this goal will be achieved, I do believe it will be a long time until we see such large scale changes in the world. In order to achieve such a high level of success, we must realize that such a feat will require an entire rewrite of American ideologies and perspectives on a culmination of many issues separate from language. More optimistically, however, I do think that drastic changes can occur within smaller communities or from working with specific individuals. After all, most major ideological changes occur slowly over time following a snowball of smaller changes.

By utilizing the knowledge we’ve acquired we can start with small, but impactful changes. Working with a group of students in the classroom (maybe even with non-linguistic students), calling out small instances of language discrimination and following up with engaging and calm educational lessons after, and working to draw attention to these issues through the media, published papers, and occupational workplaces where we may find ourselves post-graduation. We have to be really to repeat ourselves at great length, to keep ourselves educated on new perspectives and information, and set an example for others by diligently self-examining our own biases and interpretations about language and the users of language as we leave the academic life behind for the wide-open world. Only then can linguists hope to create a better world for all users of verbal and non-verbal language, one where language discrimination is a rare-occurrence and dialects are just considered another variety by which people engage with the world.

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