Accents speak louder: How speech affects our life chances

Accent bias still lingers

clock • 4 min read
James Whiteman of Aviva Investors
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James Whiteman of Aviva Investors

The way we speak represents one of the most distinct markers of who we are, where we have come from and (sometimes) even who we want to be.

Best-selling author Musa Okwonga knows first-hand the power of accents. In One of Them: An Eton College Memoir, he relays his experience of visiting a private members club. "On my way through the entrance - even though I know exactly where I am going - I make sure to stop and introduce myself to the security guard, just in case he is surprised to see an unfamiliar face going past, and by unfamiliar I mean black." The guard thanks him and lets him through. A short while later Okwonga notices another black guest arrive, visibly annoyed - and he instantly knows what has happened. Okwonga co...

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