Social Dialects in America's Workplace

Kathleen Braverman, Ph.D.

Global Lead Management Corporation

August 28, 2001

9:00-9:30 Coffee and Doughnuts
9:30-11:00 Presentation

OCLC Auditorium
6565 Frantz Road
Dublin, OH 43017

According to the 2000 census,

  • The United States is a collection of more than 100 cultures from around the world.
  • Growth in the foreign born population of the U.S. was nearly 4 times that of the native population over the past 10 years; nearly one in ten U.S. residents are presently foreign born.
  • By the year 2020, it is projected that 81% of new entrants into the workforce will be women or people of color.

The expanding diversity in the U.S. population increases the variety of language differences or social dialects we encounter. These, in turn, impact our ability to communicate effectively. A dialect is language variation that has developed through a complex interplay of historical, social, cultural, political, economic, educational, and linguistic factors among a specific speech community. Sociolinguists have documented the existence of dialects in every language, including English. Some of the more common variables that are reflected in social dialects include: geography, race, gender, education, social class, ethnic affiliation, and national origin.

While all dialects of the English language are linguistically legitimate and appropriate for use within a speech community, a few are associated with greater social prestige. This observation creates dissonance within the United States, which has traditionally preferred to view itself as an egalitarian nation. Politically, socially, and educationally, issues of social dialect acceptance and access to Standard English dialect have become more pronounced as the diversity of the U.S. population increases.

You are invited to a presentation by Kathleen Braverman about social dialects and their impact on communication in the workplace. Kathleen Braverman is a partner with Global Lead Management Corporation. Active in diversity planning for many years, Dr. Braverman is a workshop designer and facilitator on diversity awareness and skills, change management, and team building. Her professional focus is on effective verbal and nonverbal, group and interpersonal, and cross-cultural, communications. Dr. Braverman has a Ph.D. in Communications Disorders from the University of Cincinnati.