Minority report 1

December 11, 2008

Majid Yar complains that academics from overseas are often met with discriminatory attitudes from students about their "funny accents", while noting his pronounced South Walian accent (Letters, 4 December). Concentrating on some students' merriment at foreign accents "should provide the focus of attention for those wishing to create an inclusive and non-discriminatory academic environment", we are told.

Having taught in Botswana, Canada, Hong Kong, South Africa and Uganda, I can assure Yar that students' high spirits and curiosity about their lecturer's unfamiliar accent is not a uniquely British evil. Sometimes it might be because the students genuinely cannot understand the lecturer. Other times it is because young people are, well, just like that.

I cannot help but feel that there must be more positive things to do than walk through life searching for ways to be slighted and affronted. Surely a lack of funding for students is more important for class-based inclusivity than worrying about whether students doing 'Allo 'Allo impressions is "offensive". Incidentally, my wife is from Cardiff and I think her accent is hilarious - so there.

Ian Taylor, University of St Andrews.

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