Linguistic Profiling

Linguistic Profiling

The elaboration of racism has reached nearly every term and aspect of sensibility, and the sense of sound is no exception. The concept of speech or accent in correlation to stereotyping is of such concern. This is dubbed as linguistic profiling. Linguistic profiling is specifically defined as the act of determining the characteristics of ones socioeconomic status and/or race based on the way one uses language (Wordspy.com, 2002).

The term, "linguistic profiling," was invented by the Margaret Bush Wilson Professor and Director of African-American Studies in Arts and Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, Dr. John Baugh. His study indicated that when a voice sounds African-American or Mexican-American, discriminatory action is likely to follow (Rice, 2006). Baugh conducted routine analysis of the interactions of various groups, individuals, and aspects of communication to determine much of the disadvantages and dangers of linguistic profiling. The abundance of dangers and disadvantages was anything but lacking. There proved to be downsides in every regard.

In the professional market, linguistic profiling appeared to be a constant. Employers, business owners, managers, employees and many other people of professional rank were among the many to break what are essentially the laws set forth to eliminate such discrimination. Undoubtedly, these breaches of the federal and state fair housing and equal employment opportunity laws are unbeneficial and suppressive to those that they discriminate. but, they are also drastically damaging to those administering the discrimination.

Potential employers, mortgage service providers, real estate agents, bank representatives, and many other service providing individuals and companies were shown in Baugh's research to have short-handed themselves (Rice, 2006). Through the stereotyping judgments made by these establishments and their workers, many qualified and responsible individuals were repeatedly overlooked and disregarded. In some instances, the highest qualified candidates were among those discriminated against.

In his educational address, Baugh proclaimed that his "analyses expanded to include populations who suffered various forms of linguistic discrimination, including deaf communities, as well as speakers of languages or dialects who lack fluency in the dominant linguistic norms of their respective societies" (Baugh, 2007). This suggests that the issue of linguistic profiling is and has been a common and deeply impaction occurrence.

In the United States, and in light of the recent housing booms following the September 11th terrorist attacks, linguistic profiling has been predominantly seen throughout the housing and real estate markets. Wrongful distinguishing of applicants for home loans or real estate services based on phone conversations that did not involve actual application information has been highly attributed to many of the accusations of racism within this industry (Purtell, 2005). Loan officers surveying applicants for loans are required to make informed decisions based upon information directly pertaining to loan application. In contrast, the loan officers that conduct such racial profiling are also negatively affecting their industry and individual business by depleting the rolls of available business. The oppression of applicants as a result of linguistic profiling is likely a significant portion of lost business within the banking and real estate market and may remain in continuum until the issue is properly and thoroughly addressed. This racial identification by speech has also been attributed to several cases in the past.

In 2002, an article in Legal Affairs Magazine reported about a California man who suspected the owners of an apartment complex in the San Francisco Bay Area to be avoiding and ignoring…