Sunday, September 16, 2012

Tattooed with accent

Clip art: Clker

Clip art: Clker
Working as we do with both the body and pronunciation, the analogy between the L1 gestural repertoire and that of the L2 as "accent," not unlike that evident in pronunciation, is often discussed. The changing, contemporary attitude toward tattoos shows another striking parallel. (Tattoos are one of the amateur semiotician's favorite targets of opportunity!) Check this fun (moderately tongue-in-cheek) post from "semioticsfromtheedgeoftime" Tumblr blog:

"In the past there was one reason, and one reason only, to ink up: A tattoo confirmed your status as a scary outsider rebel carny outlaw sociopath. “Don’t mess with me because I am insane,” was the intended message. And it worked. . . Cut to today: Having a tattoo has lost its original meaning. Having a tattoo now has no meaning. Having a tattoo means that you have a tattoo." 

For the word "tattoo" in that comment, substitute in the word, "accent." Many in the field would have us believe the convenient fiction that accent, as well, no longer has social meaning worthy of attending to in the classroom. Tell that to nonnative English-speaking job applicants with foreign language accent written all over them . . . 

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