When I wrote my blog on The Last Bastion of PC Prejudice, I was unaware of the work of John Baugh who has done a 2 year study of the phenomenon of linguistic prejudice. In a press release put out on February 2, 2006 by the University of Washington at St. Louis, it notes that his research demonstrates both that people can make correct racial and ethnic identifications by hearing a voice on the telephone and that there is systematic prejudice against Hispanics and African Americans. In a press release called Linguistic profiling: The sound of your voice may determine if you get that apartment or not he is said to have claimed that
some companies screen calls on answering machines and don't return calls of those whose voices seem to identify them as black or Latinoand goes on to say
Some companies instruct their phone clerks to brush aside any chance of a face-to-face appointment to view a sales property or interview for a job based on the sound of a caller's voice. Other employees routinely write their guess about a caller's race on company phone message slips.He proved his point by having people call concerning advertised rental properties and discovered (Duh!) that very commonly people with identifiable Spanish accented English or Black accented English were told that the advertised properties or jobs were no longer available while the same properties or jobs were said to still be available to those speaking standard American English.
This sort of prejudice has long been known to exist by linguists. Bill Labov demonstrated some 35 or more years ago that three department stores in New York City exhibited dialect stratification as a function of how many dropped the r's in "fourth floor." The more "r's" the more likely you could get at job at Sax Fifth Avenue and at Macy's the specific job you were assigned reflected the percentage of r's one drops. In this case, the study was not about race per se but the fact is that Blacks tend to drop r's more than Whites in New York City and some other places, all other things being equal.
Dr. Bough's study helps to confirm what Hispanic Americans and Black Americans already know, namely that America is still a country in which racial and ethnic prejudice is alive and well and being practiced.