This is about Americans don’t forget

Social class can be determined within just seven words, and it could have major implications in job interviews, researchers from Yale University believe.

In a new study, 274 people with hiring experience were asked to listen to audio recordings, or read transcripts, from the pre-interview discussions of people who applied for a lab manager position at the university.

The hiring managers were asked to assess the candidate’s professional qualities, starting salary, signing on bonus and social class, without reading CVs.

The findings showed that within the first seven words, hirers had made snap judgements of the candidates, based on class, which were later reflected in decisions to hire, as well as salary and bonus levels.

Accent is rather less important over there than it is over here. Hmm, maybe not quite right, perhaps less variable is better? In England, certainly, you can spot someone to within 5 miles by their accent. Unless it’s RP of course and American doesn’t quite have that. In Germany the varied accents/dialects aren’t mutually intelligible across Lander lines. Italian isn’t even a real language, what we think is is just the Florentine version of it.

And of course class and geography mix in all cases.

Whether that will translate to different wages in quite the same way is interesting. For the old days in the City the lads with the fast working class accents (Cockneys, obviously) were usually very much better paid than the poshos. Generally speaking that is – the Cockneys were there as the traders, on talent, the poshos on connections and to man the front desks, take people to lunch. Pay reflected who was making the money. As our own bordello manager will be able to tell us…..

28 comments on “This is about Americans don’t forget

  1. Accents and background mattered less with employers and among colleagues than with clients – some of whom expected to deal with a certain type. As the workplace became more democratised, however, this became less of an issue. That said, most experienced players were/are very good at their job and there was/is little to choose between one or the other in terms of ability, it often comes down to whether your face fits. Some clients, being human, are more comfortable with a particular type.

  2. Interviewer – What do you think your biggest weakness is?

    Candidate – I think I’m too honest

    Interviewer – I don’t think honesty is a weakness

    Candidate – I don’t give a fuck what you think.

  3. In Germany the varied accents/dialects aren’t mutually intelligible across Lander lines.

    Another fine piece of writing there. So double nonsense, really.

  4. “In a new study, 274 people with hiring experience were asked to listen to audio recordings, or read transcripts, from the pre-interview discussions of people who applied for a lab manager position at the university.”

    Recordings of pre-interview discussions? Whut?

    Is this really that badly arse about face?

  5. “In Germany the varied accents/dialects aren’t mutually intelligible across Lander lines.”

    Erm, the German dialects vary along a continuum, and do not respect borders. Whereas someone talking Platdeutsch from the north East might not be able to understand someone from deepest darkest Bavaria and vice-versa if they both speak dialect, the idea that such a thing occurs merely over a Land border is nonsense, sorry Tim. Even across country borders this isn’t the case – Platdeutsch and the Eastern dialects of Dutch are basically the same, and someone from the Achterhoek (NL) can go use his dialect over the border in DE and be understood, and vice-versa.

  6. English dialects are not just slightly more variable than American it is a whole order of difference and there is nothing like the class marker system we have .As for the Essex wide boy effect , still happens in old parts op services but its dying out –
    If you can have one , why not have a graduate
    Incidentally although accent and class have always been entwined in this country it was also possible to move rapidly upwards in the 19th centrality – we do seem to me to have an especially stagnant pond at the moment .The question of private schooling rigging the game is not going to go away

  7. The antidote to any temptation to believe that Yanks don’t have class differences is to labour in a US factory for a few months while spending your weekends in higher class circumstances.

    (It was quite a good job: we made body bags for Vietnam.)

  8. P.S. I’m disinclined to believe their “results”. It’s yer Social Science after all, where results are rarely reproducible.

  9. ‘Yo motha…’ or ‘Hey bro’’ Is a bit of a give away.

    It won’t be accent it will be words and pronunciation.

  10. I’m with dearieme on this one… This is typical “social science” bullshit.

    I believe Tim is correct that accent is less variable in the US of A, but the vast size of the country has more to do with it than class structures. As P.J. O’Rourke once noted, when it comes to Europe you can’t swing a cat without crossing a border. There’s a significant difference between a New York accent and an Ohio accent, but given that NY is 9 to 10 hours away from Ohio by car, you just don’t run into too many New Yorkers around here (it’s one of the best reasons to be in Ohio). From here, a car drive to the west coast in measured in days, not hours. Similarly, trips into the deep South require some serious driving time. Sure, there is air travel, but that is no longer easy or particularly fast (once you factor in everything required to get on a plane), so what you don’t get in the US of A is a lot of casual travel across different regions. Too many miles. That results in less exposure to other accents.

    When in Dublin I couldn’t help notice how many non-Irish wogs were there getting real drunk on the weekend. Those wogs had flown across the channel in an hour or so. Different countries, different languages, different cultures. In the US of A, a one hour or so plane ride won’t get you out of your region. An hour out of Columbus, Ohio puts you in Pittsburgh or Indianapolis. A bit different, but not much…

  11. I agree with those saying most Germans find each other’s dialects readily comprehensible*, mostly the difference is a hard or soft ‘ich’. Schweizerdeutsch on the other hand …

    * and Dutch is just another dialect, though the Dutch will kill you if you try to explain that to them …

  12. https://www.babbel.com/en/magazine/germanic-languages/

    Chris Miller on the subject of languages should always be taken with a pinch of salt.

    “While quite a few people still believe that Dutch evolved from a German dialect, it would be more accurate to say that German and Dutch are linguistic siblings — they developed from the same source language, but they aren’t dialects”

    The declension of articles, the stricter grammatical rules, genders plus word differences such as bellen and varen… The differences add up rapidly

  13. Damn the paywall! how do the researchers know what the employers have decided after hearing only the first seven words of the job interview? unless they stop the tape at that point and interrogate the employers. Then they will find that, of course, we all discriminate WHEN WE DON’T HAVE COMPLETE INFORMATION, which we might get by letting the job interview finish! Even Jesse Jackson admits to crossing over to the other sidewalk to avoid (other) black men in a city at midnight.

    Agreed that the large distances in America make accents rougher. However, though air travel has become a nuisance, job-based relocation means most Americans encounter strange dialects without leaving their own city. Moreover, many African Americans speak their own dialect, a phenomenon I was delighted to see missing in my work trips to Royal Berkshire.

    Andrew C–“People keep firing me solely because I speak Truth To Power.”

  14. Henry Higgins: …….You can spot an Irishman or a Yorkshireman by his brogue. I can place any man within six miles. I can place him within two miles in London. Sometimes within two streets….

    Pygmalion – G B Shaw – 1913

  15. Pru Leith’s accent was a surprise recently revealed to me. South African, albeit modulated by 60 years here. But I had a sudden ‘penny dropping’ moment when I heard. Ah yes, I thought, that explains something I’d never quite got.

    She speaks beautifully, though, and her voice is really rather attractive.

  16. “In Germany the varied accents/dialects aren’t mutually intelligible across Lander lines.”

    Something in that. When I lived in Germany, I was in the Pfalz (Rheinland-Palatinate); German but lots of French influence on the language, plus a good dose of regional bloody-mindedness. The effect was rather like speaking a German version of broad Somerset – instantly marked you out as a hick from a particular region.

    The woman two doors down, from Bremen, claimed she actually couldn’t understand the man next door.

  17. @MeLud. I met Daniel Lewis with two other Safricans at Lord’s in 2017 and he took us off in a TV interview quite brilliantly. We laughed. As we have to, most of the time.

  18. Seven words? Two frequently sufficient:

    Candidate enters room “Yo bro”
    or one gesture
    Candidate enters room and holds up hand for “high five”
    or visible tattoos etc

    Would you employ this?
    https://goo.gl/tvEDaa
    https://goo.gl/UBq9x6

    JSA deductions for choosing to be unemployable?

    .
    @Newmania October 22, 2019 at 12:40 pm

    private state schooling rigging the game in favour of dummies is not going to go away

    FTFY

  19. I only discovered that I had an upper-class accent when I played back the telephone answering message a couple of scores of years after the delightful proletarian young pioneer re-educationists (a.k.a. class-warrior thugs) gave up trying to beat me up for it. Not being upper-class it hadn’t occurred to me that I had an upper-class accent.
    IMHO it is quite difficult for an English person to detect the class of a Scots person by accent unless they talk posh English – many Scots aristocrats have a Scots accent that is more powerful than their posh one

    @ Newmania
    19th century not centrality

  20. When I was in college, I developed the ability to determine where people were from within a hundred miles by their accent. USA. Regional accents were real.

    ‘The findings showed that within the first seven words, hirers had made snap judgements of the candidates, based on class’

    Bullshit. Within 7 words, they figured out the candidate was a good person, or a dick. Nothing to do with class. Whatever that means.

    ‘which were later reflected in decisions to hire, as well as salary and bonus levels.’

    Good people make more than dicks.

  21. RichardT: The woman two doors down, from Bremen, claimed she actually couldn’t understand the man next door.

    This is simply the Hanseatic snobbery of the woman two doors down, nothing more.

    Bloke in Enschede: Chris Miller on the subject of languages should always be taken with a pinch of salt.

    I’m not sure I agree entirely with Chris Miller either on this one but I believe that Swedish is more his linguistic niche.

    Looking at that same link and his contribution to this thread, it’s hard to ignore the fact that m’Lud tends to wax sentimental if not ribald in his appreciation of foreign tongues. What he must be like after a glass or two of Ch. Thames Embankment is anyone’s guess.

    It also strikes me that everyone’s favourite Unkraut hasn’t delivered his view from Hessen – wie geht’s, Großer?

  22. I sincerely doubt that anyone can tell an American’s social class within 7 words. Not reliably anyway.

    1. We really don’t have them as such. There is a basic ‘rich’ middle-class’ ‘poor’ divide but they’re very fluid and overlap a lot.

    2. In the US there are very few accents and they cover fairly large geographic regions. I’m pretty sure the US has fewer accents in the whole country than you’d find within 10 miles of the center of London.

    I might be able to tell an ‘upper class’ Bostonian from a lower class one – because the upper class person *doesn’t* have a Boston accent – but there’s almost no difference in accent among people in Arizona, California, Utah, etc. Or take the ‘Southern’ accent. That’s as likely to be spoken by a redneck as any southern gentry. Indeed, southern gentry are mostly rednecks made good anyway.

    I guess you could tell by how often ‘fuck’ showed up in their speech?

  23. “Dennis, He Who Has Gagged On Haggis
    October 22, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    An hour out of Columbus, Ohio puts you in Pittsburgh or Indianapolis. A bit different, but not much…”

    Even more so out west. An hour out of Phoenix and you won’t even be out of the state yet. If you’re driving, not even out of the county.

  24. I’m not sure I agree entirely with Chris Miller either on this one but I believe that Swedish is more his linguistic niche.

    You’re very kind, but that was lifted from Guinness World Records. As with most European languages, I can say “hello” and “thanks” and, er, that’s it. My German’s a little better than that, but not much. And the Dutch crack was just an attempt at a joke (but most jokes need a kernel of truth).

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