How You Say It: Why You Talk the Way You Do—and What It Says About You

Houghton Harcourt. Jul. 2020. 256p. ISBN 9780544986558. $28. psych
The way we speak can be a critical marker of identity, yet we are unaware of its power. It’s often how we sound signals about who we are, where we come from, and the aspirations we have. Language and dialect are deeply connected to our sense of self and tribe and are also linked to deep-seated stereotypes and biases. For example, a person with a deep Southern drawl might be perceived differently from someone with a British accent. Kinzler’s (psychology, Univ. of Chicago) goal with this book is to explain the relationship between language, dialect, and social forces so we can use that knowledge when we interact with others. In achieving this goal, Kinzler researched how babies and young children use language to divide people into categories and determine who is like them and who is different. In her words, she studies children because they provide a window into our human nature. The author later explores the interplay of accent and prejudice, especially in the workplace and during the interview process; the challenges of learning a second language; and bilingualism’s advantages.
VERDICT Insightful and accessible, this book is a must for all psychology and social justice collections.
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