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The dialect you speak could affect your job prospects

By Callan Gray, cgray@wcyb.com
Published On: Aug 06 2014 10:54:11 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 07 2014 12:18:24 AM CDT
BRISTOL, Va. -

The way you talk is usually passed down from your parents. It can represent the culture you grew up in and can be a source of pride.

A professor at the University of Virginia at Wise, Amy Clark, told us that's not always true for those people speaking Appalachian dialects. Dialect includes the words, grammar and accent we use to speak.    

"As a student I remember hearing that you should never speak that way or you'll never get anywhere if you speak that way," said Clark.

She told us she never agreed with that and even wrote a book about the importance of preserving regional dialects. She points out in her book, Talking Appalachian, that her dialect represents the rich history of this region.

"Some of the words that we use date back to Old English," said Clark. "A lot of the words that we use, and the pronunciations that we use, have been linked to the Scotch-Irish and the English. There are a lot of double and triple negatives, 'I ain't got no', in Appalachia, which are very old. Those date back to Old English."

The assistant director of professional and career development at UVA Wise, Neva Bryan, told us despite the pride that can come with speaking a certain dialect, it can influence the job you get.

"Unfortunately for those of us who have mountainous or southern accents, people tend to think that accent conveys to them that we're not as intelligent or competent as someone who has a less noticeable accent," Bryan said.

Bryan did tell us, however, that people who have an Appalachian accents should not be discouraged. She said the most important factor for employers is grammar.   

As for dialect, Amy Clark is teaching her students Standard American English but she's not suggesting they abandon their heritage when it comes to the way they talk.

"Everyone has a very personal reason why they speak the way that they do and everyone should have that choice to make the change they want to," said Clark.