We Speak: Tina

Tina Tobey was born and raised in Texas. She’s used to non-Texans expecting her to know all about oil-drilling and ranching. And of course to speak “like a Texan.” While she barely meets those expectations, Tina has come to realize that she speaks more Texas English than she thought. Also in this episode: how difficult is it to win an accent bias lawsuit? And to overcome our own accent biases? This is the fourth and final part in our series on speech, identity and bias.

Notes on contributors: Tina Tobey is Subtitle’s sound designer. Lars Hinrichs is the director of the Texas English Language Lab at the University of Texas. Erica Brozovsky is also at the University of Texas where she researches the speech of Taiwanese Texans. New York-based attorney Melinda Koster has litigated employment discrimination cases and written about the topic of accent discrimination.  Erez Levon teaches sociolinguistics at Queen Mary University of London and is  the principal investigator of the Accent Bias in Britain project.

The music in this episode is by Blue Dot Sessions, Podington Bear, Biddy Sullivan, Moss Harman, Alexandra Woodward and Alan Carlson-Green. The photo is courtesy of Tina Tobey who is pictured in her youth atop a Texas-bred horse. Read a transcript of this episode here.

Join the discussion

  • Nice job Tina!
    As Pee Wee indicated there is no basement in the Alamo… and in Boston how do you pak the car in Harvard yard?
    Loved the horse picture

  • I’m from extreme south Texas, Brownsville, and until I traveled to Los Angeles, I thought no accent. Sitting at a bus stop, I, friendly Texan that I am, spoke to her, something innocuous, “it’s a beautiful day, isn’t it.” The first thing she said to me was, “you’re not from here, are?” I said I was from Texas. She nodded, “I thought so. No one here speaks that slowly or softly.” To say I was surprised is an understatement.

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