Silencing nonstandard speakers: A content analysis of accent portrayals on American primetime television

Marko Dragojevic, Dana Mastro, Howard Giles, Alexander Sink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (SciVal)


Accent is a potent cue to social categorization and stereotyping. An important agent of accent-based stereotype socialization is the media. The present study is the first quantitative content analysis to comprehensively examine accent portrayals on American primetime television. We focused our analysis on portrayals of Standard American (SA), Nonstandard American (NSA), Foreign-Anglo (FA), and Foreign-Other (FO) accents. Results provide clear evidence that American media's portrayals of different accents are biased, reflecting pervasive societal stereotypes. Whereas SA and FA speakers are over-represented on television, NSA and FO speakers are effectively silenced, by virtue of their sheer absence and gross under-representation. Moreover, when NSA and FO speakers do rarely appear on television, they tend to be portrayed less favorably on status-related traits and physical appearance than SA and FA speakers. These findings provide insight into the potential influence of media consumption on consumers' social perceptions of different linguistic groups. (Accents, media, language attitudes, stereotypes, content analysis).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-85
Number of pages27
JournalLanguage in Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 28 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Cambridge University Press.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


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