Language variety, diversity, expression, equality. I thought that these were Australian values. Well, they are. Not everybody acts on them, though.
To me, language is a huge indicator of who we are, where we come from, even where we are going. And as a linguistics student, I feel kind of entitled to be able to analyse people’s use of language, their accent, their words, their punctuation, to get a feel for them.
Unfortunately this doesn’t always work… example 1: when I thought someone was gay. I still think that that was his fault. But it put a dampener on our “relationship”.
There are times, though, when someone’s opinion can be pretty clear, and pretty hurtful.
Living in Melbourne, I hear I huge variety of accents. I love that they all come to this city and that I get to hear and see a lot of them. But the other day, at a work meeting, a girl with similar education to myself, and I were talking about different accents in Australia.
We were saying that you can’t really tell what part of Australia a person is from based on their accent. I thought it was a good discussion until she said “There’s just like bogan… or, well, country and city.”
So, apparently, everyone from the country speaks bogan, and therefore, presumably, is a bogan. I felt like asking her what she thinks my accent is then shutting her down (amid applause and firecrackers, popping champagne bottles and red roses being flung at my feet) with a witty remark.
There were three reasons why I couldn’t do this:
- It was an amicable work meeting. That’s not normal amicable work meeting behaviour
- I couldn’t think of a witty remark. Still can’t, really
- I was just stumped. Who actually thinks so narrowly?
Being a Caucasian 22 year old girl (girl? woman?) with a good education, I very rarely feel discriminated against, but that was one time. And it was not a pleasant feeling. Writing that has just opened my eyes – I should, and will be, more proactive in lessening discrimination, as well as pursuing my love of language and free self expression in a variety of voices for all.