How we judge others for the way they speak

A Blog inspired by Carrie Gildon’s TedTalk

By: Belen Chavez

As we all know, judging people in general, is not something we’re looking forward to since our first thought when being judged is “that’s wrong because it hurts me”. But first, let’s find out why we start judging others.

What is a language and how can it be judged? How can I judge someone if it’s only their grammar being judged? How can I stop doing so? To begin with, let’s pretend any language is a being, this being is alive and, as any other alive being, it develops and changes through years, centuries, and so on.

What’s a language and how can it be judged?

Once we know a language can vary and change, we have now answered the first part of question number one; a language can vary depending on the place you are. It’s not the same dialect (a particular way of speaking a certain language) spoken in Australia as the one spoken in Canada; they have different words, intonation and of course, idioms. Even though we know this, we sometimes judge people because of the way they speak. We should try to understand that this is actually not something we choose to do, it’s something we were taught to do, “but that ain’t mean we can’t avoid doing it,” so let’s start.

How can I judge someone if it’s only their grammar being judged?

As we may know, people tend to criticize a specific part of a population’s dialect. In the video mentioned above, Carrie mentions only a few points that we take into consideration when judging.

  1. Gender, such as the famous “fact”: Women certainly talk way more than men. Which is actually NOT true.
  2. Social class; this particular point shows how we tend to criticize people because their way of speaking isn’t grammatically correct. Of course there are some basic grammar structures we’re supposed to follow, but nobody speaks the way a grammar book tells you to. Slang (words or sentences considered to be pretty informal) don’t usually come in a grammar book, but we still know what they mean. It’s even good for you to understand slang while learning a second language. The more the better they’d say.
  3. Race is a difficult topic to talk about, as it can be very controversial. However, it is sometimes a topic used for judging people’s speech as well.

She also mentioned other qualities we are used to judging such as sexuality, region, age and even religion. Just think about it, when you were in elementary school, someone definitely laughed at the kid who said (just to quote an example) “dijistes” instead of “dijiste.” Maybe when you studied highschool someone judged a teenager because they didn’t speak a second language. We do judge based on race or social status but we’re here to understand that that, by itself is part of our culture.

Finally, How can I stop doing so? People actually know that it’s not okay to judge a book by its cover, so, why would we judge someone by their accent or grammatical structures? It’s okay to make mistakes as we all do, but we can always learn something new everyday and as Miguel Ruiz (author of “The four agreements”) once wrote, we need to “always do our best.” So let’s try to do our best and stop criticizing people because of the way they speak, let’s learn how to stop. We should all treat people with respect, love and kindness.