Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton April 15, 2022

Making the case for linguicism: revisiting theoretical concepts and terminologies in linguistic discrimination research

  • Trang Thi Thuy Nguyen ORCID logo EMAIL logo and John Hajek ORCID logo


In an effort to foreground the concept of linguicism, this article provides a critical review of the research literature on linguistic discrimination, focusing on common concepts and terms applied to characterise the issue. Giving particular attention to studies which directly consider discrimination based on language or linguistic factors, we identify three main groups of concepts and terms which are widely used, including (a) race-based concepts, (b) language variation-based concepts and (c) general terms. The construction, meaning and usage of the concept of ‘linguicism’ are discussed separately from these three groups. Although race-based concepts, language variation-based concepts and general terms are extremely useful for particular research purposes, they may not be applicable to describe all or other forms of linguistic discrimination. It is argued that linguicism is a powerful theoretical construct, which can be used as an umbrella concept to capture the full range of linguistic discrimination issues. Suggestions are also presented for future research in relation to social factors associated with linguistic discrimination and research context, which is important to shed light on otherwise potentially unheard voices in linguistic discrimination scholarship.

Corresponding author: Trang Thi Thuy Nguyen, The University of Queensland, QLD 4072, Brisbane, Australia, E-mail:


Alim, Samy H. 2007. Critical hip-hop language pedagogies: Combat, consciousness, and the cultural politics of communication. Journal of Language, Identity & Education 6(2). 161–176. in Google Scholar

Alim, Samy H. 2016. Introducing raciolinguistics: Racing language and languaging race in hyperracial times. In Samy H. Alim, John R. Rickford & Arnetha F. Ball (eds.), Raciolinguistics: How language shapes our ideas about race, 1–30. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190625696.003.0001Search in Google Scholar

Arksey, Hilary & Lisa O’Malley. 2005. Scoping studies: Towards a methodological framework. International Journal of Social Research Methodology 8(1). 19–32. in Google Scholar

Asensio, Rubén Fernández. 2014. Language policies in the Kingdom of Hawai‘i: Reassessing linguicism. Language Problems and Language Planning 38(2). 128–148. in Google Scholar

Baker-Bell, April. 2020. Dismantling anti-black linguistic racism in English language arts classrooms: Toward an anti-racist black language pedagogy. Theory into Practice 59(1). 8–21. in Google Scholar

Banton, Michael. 1967. Race relations. New York: Basic Books.Search in Google Scholar

Barwell, Richard. 2003. Linguistic discrimination: An issue for research in mathematics education. For the Learning of Mathematics 23(2). 37–43.Search in Google Scholar

Baugh, John. 1996. Linguistic discrimination. In Hans Goebl, Peter H. Nelde, Zdenek Stary & Wolfgang Woelck (eds.), Contact linguistics: A handbook of contemporary research, 709–714. Berlin: De Gruyter.10.1515/9783110132649.1.6.709Search in Google Scholar

Baugh, John. 2000. Racial identification by speech. American Speech 75(4). 362–364. in Google Scholar

Baugh, John. 2003. Linguistic profiling. In Arnetha Ball, Sinfree Makoni, Geneva Smitherman & Arthur K. Spears (eds.), Black linguistics: Language, society, and politics in Africa and the Americas, 155–168. New York: Routledge.10.1017/9781316597750.006Search in Google Scholar

Blanchet, Philippe. 2019. Discriminations: Combattre la glottophobie. Limoges: Lambert-Lucas.Search in Google Scholar

Blum, Avram & Eric J. Johnson. 2012. Reading repression: Textualizing the linguistic marginalization of nonnative English-speaking teachers in Arizona. Journal of Language, Identity & Education 11(3). 167–184. in Google Scholar

Boutte, Gloria Swindler & George L. Johnson. 2013. Funga alafia: Toward welcoming, understanding, and respecting African American speakers’ bilingualism and biliteracy. Equity & Excellence in Education 46(3). 300–314. in Google Scholar

Cantone, Jason A., Leslie N. Martinez, Cynthia Willis-Esqueda & Taija Miller. 2019. Sounding guilty: How accent bias affects juror judgments of culpability. Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice 17(3). 228–253. in Google Scholar

Chen-Hayes, Stuart F., Mei-Whei Chen & Naveeda Athar. 1999. Challenging linguicism: Action strategies for counselors and client-colleagues. (accessed 22 June 2021).Search in Google Scholar

Chin, William Y. 2010. Linguistic profiling in education: How accent bias denies equal educational opportunities to students of color. Scholar 12. 355.Search in Google Scholar

Cho, Hyesun. 2017. Racism and linguicism: Engaging language minority pre-service teachers in counter-storytelling. Race Ethnicity and Education 20(5). 666–680. in Google Scholar

Corona, Víctor & David Block. 2020. Raciolinguistic micro-aggressions in the school stories of immigrant adolescents in Barcelona: A challenge to the notion of Spanish exceptionalism? International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism 23(7). 778–788. in Google Scholar

Coupland, Nikolas. 2007. Style: Language variation and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511755064Search in Google Scholar

Craft, Justin T., Kelly E. Wright, Rachel Elizabeth Weissler & Robin M. Queen. 2020. Language and discrimination: Generating meaning, perceiving identities, and discriminating outcomes. Annual Review of Linguistics 6(1). 389–407. in Google Scholar

Cushing, Ian. 2019. Prescriptivism, linguicism and pedagogical coercion in primary school UK curriculum policy. English Teaching: Practice & Critique 19(1). 35–47. in Google Scholar

Davies, Alan. 1996. Review article: Ironising the myth of linguicism. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 17(6). 485–496. in Google Scholar

Davis, Tiffany Y. & Wendy Leo Moore. 2014. Spanish not spoken here: Accounting for the racialization of the Spanish language in the experiences of Mexican migrants in the United States. Ethnicities 14(5). 676–697. in Google Scholar

Derwing, Tracey M., Helen Fraser, Okim Kang & Ron I. Thomson. 2014. L2 accent and ethics: Issues that merit attention. In Ahmar Mahboob & Leslie Barratt (eds.), Englishes in multilingual contexts: Language variation and education, 63–80. Dordrecht: Springer.10.1007/978-94-017-8869-4_5Search in Google Scholar

Doan, Ngoc Ba. 2016. To employ or not to employ expatriate non-native speaker teachers: Views from within. Asian Englishes 18(1). 67–79. in Google Scholar

Dovchin, Sender. 2020. The psychological damages of linguistic racism and international students in Australia. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism 23(7). 804–818. in Google Scholar

Dryden, Stephanie & Sender Dovchin. 2021. Accentism: English LX users of migrant background in Australia. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development. 1–13. in Google Scholar

Endo, Rachel. 2015. From unconscious deficit views to affirmation of linguistic varieties in the classroom: White preservice teachers on building critical self-awareness about linguicism’s causes and consequences. Multicultural Perspectives 17(4). 207–214. in Google Scholar

Flores, Nelson & Jonathan Rosa. 2015. Undoing appropriateness: Raciolinguistic ideologies and language diversity in education. Harvard Educational Review 85(2). 149–171. in Google Scholar

Freynet, Nathalie & Richard Clément. 2019. Perceived accent discrimination: Psychosocial consequences and perceived legitimacy. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 38(4). 496–513. in Google Scholar

Fürstenau, Sara. 2002. Language and power: Demands on education. European Educational Research Journal 1(3). 604–614. in Google Scholar

Gibbons, John & Elizabeth Ramirez. 2004. Maintaining a minority language: A case study of Hispanic teenagers. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.10.21832/9781853597428Search in Google Scholar

Gluszek, Agata & John F. Dovidio. 2010. The way they speak: A social psychological perspective on the stigma of nonnative accents in communication. Personality and Social Psychology Review 14(2). 214–237. in Google Scholar

Gray, Kishonna L. 2012. Intersecting oppressions and online communities: Examining the experience of women in XBOX Live. Information, Communication & Society 15(3). 411–428. in Google Scholar

Hanauer, David I., Cheryl L. Sheridan & Karen Englander. 2019. Linguistic injustice in the writing of research articles in English as a second language: Data from Taiwanese and Mexican researchers. Written Communication 36(1). 136–154. in Google Scholar

Hansen, Karolina, Tamara Rakić & Melanie C. Steffens. 2014. When actions speak louder than words: Preventing discrimination of nonstandard speakers. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 33(1). 68–77. in Google Scholar

Harris, Marvin. 1993. Culture, people, nature: An introduction to general anthropology. New York: Harper Collins.Search in Google Scholar

Hegarty, Peter. 2020. Strangers and states: Situating accentism in a world of nations. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 39(1). 172–179. in Google Scholar

Higgins, Christina, Richard Nettell, Gavin Furukawa & Sakoda Kent. 2012. Beyond contrastive analysis and codeswitching: Student documentary filmmaking as a challenge to linguicism in Hawai‘i. Linguistics and Education 23(1). 49–61. in Google Scholar

Hinrichs, Lars. 2015. Approaches to language variation. In Alexandra Georgakopoulou & Tereza Spilioti (eds.), The Routledge handbook of language and digital communication, 19–35. New York: Routledge.Search in Google Scholar

Holliday, Adrian. 2005. The struggle to teach English as an international language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Holliday, Adrian. 2006. Native-speakerism. ELT Journal 60(4). 385–387. in Google Scholar

Holliday, Adrian. 2015. Native-speakerism: Taking the concept forward and achieving cultural belief. In Anne Swan, Pamela Aboshiha & Adrian Holliday (eds.), (En)countering native-speakerism: Global perspectives, 11–25. London: Palgrave Macmillan.10.1057/9781137463500_2Search in Google Scholar

Holliday, Adrian. 2018. Native-speakerism. In John I. Liontas (ed.), The TESOL encyclopedia of English language teaching, 1–7. Chichester, UK: Wiley.10.1002/9781118784235.eelt0027Search in Google Scholar

Houghton, Stephanie Ann. 2013. The overthrow of the foreign lecturer positions, and its aftermath. In Stephanie Ann Houghton & Damian J. Rivers (eds.), Native-speakerism in Japan: Intergroup dynamics in foreign language education, 60–74. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.10.21832/9781847698704-008Search in Google Scholar

Hsu, Funie. 2020. The “native English speaker” as indigenous replacement: California English learner classification policies and settler grammar expressions of immigrant nationhood. Educational Studies 56(3). 233–247. in Google Scholar

Hughes, Claretha & Ketevan Mamiseishvili. 2014. Linguistic profiling in the workforce. In Marilyn Y Byrd & Chaunda L. Scott (eds.), Diversity in the workforce: Current issues and emerging trends, 249–265. New York: Routledge.10.4324/9781315188980-11Search in Google Scholar

Hyland, Ken. 2016. Academic publishing and the myth of linguistic injustice. Journal of Second Language Writing 31. 58–69. in Google Scholar

Iheduru-Anderson, Kechi. 2020. Accent bias: A barrier to Black African-born nurses seeking managerial and faculty positions in the United States. Nursing Inquiry 27(4). e12355. in Google Scholar

Jean-Pierre, Johanne. 2018. The experiences of and responses to linguicism of Quebec English-speaking and Franco-Ontarian postsecondary students. Canadian Review of Sociology 55(4). 510–531. in Google Scholar

Kayaalp, Dilek. 2016. Living with an accent: A sociological analysis of linguistic strategies of immigrant youth in Canada. Journal of Youth Studies 19(2). 133–148. in Google Scholar

Khan, Cristine. 2019. Cultural awareness through linguicism? Questioning the roles of native English speakers in Bogota, Colombia. Language and Intercultural Communication 19(2). 123–136. in Google Scholar

Kirkpatrick, Andy. 1998. Currents of thought on Asian English studies. Asian Englishes 1(2). 76–85. in Google Scholar

Krieger, Nancy. 2020. Measures of racism, sexism, heterosexism, and gender binarism for health equity research: From structural injustice to embodied harm—An ecosocial analysis. Annual Review of Public Health 41(1). 37–62. in Google Scholar

Kubota, Ryuko. 2019. Confronting epistemological racism, decolonizing scholarly knowledge: Race and gender in applied linguistics. Applied Linguistics 41. 712–732. in Google Scholar

Levon, Erez, Devyani Sharma, Dominic Watt & Christina Perry. 2020. Accent bias: Implications for professional recruiting. Available at: in Google Scholar

Liddicoat, Anthony & Kathleen Heugh. 2014. Educational equity for linguistically marginalised students. In Martha Bigelow & Johanna Ennser-Kananen (eds.), The Routledge handbook of educational linguistics, 79–91. New York: Routledge.Search in Google Scholar

Liggett, Tonda. 2014. The mapping of a framework: Critical race theory and TESOL. The Urban Review 46(1). 112–124. in Google Scholar

Lippi-Green, Rosina. 1997. English with an accent: Language, ideology, and discrimination in the United States. New York: Routledge.Search in Google Scholar

Mackenzie, Lee. 2020. Discriminatory job advertisements for English language teachers in Colombia: An analysis of recruitment biases. TESOL Journal 12. e535. in Google Scholar

McPherson, Lionel K. 2015. Deflating “race”. Journal of the American Philosophical Association 1(4). 674–693. in Google Scholar

Mey, Jacob L. 1972. Linguistic performance and minority groups. Today’s Speech 20(2). 45–56. in Google Scholar

Morrison, Keith & Icy Lui. 2000. Ideology, linguistic capital and the medium of instruction in Hong Kong. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 21(6). 471–486. in Google Scholar

Moyer, Alene. 2013. Foreign accent: The phenomenon of non-native speech. New York: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511794407Search in Google Scholar

Murillo, Luz A. & Patrick H. Smith. 2011. “I will never forget that”: Lasting effects of language discrimination on language-minority children in Colombia and on the U.S.-Mexico border. Childhood Education 87(3). 147–153. in Google Scholar

Ng, Patrick Chin Leong. 2018. Overcoming institutional native speakerism: The experience of one teacher. In Stephanie Ann Houghton & Kayoko Hashimoto. (eds.), Towards post-native-speakerism: Dynamics and shift. 3–15. Singapore: Springer.10.1007/978-981-10-7162-1_1Search in Google Scholar

Nguyen, Trang Thi Thuy. 2021. Educational linguicism: Linguistic discrimination against minority students in Vietnamese mainstream schools. Language Policy. 1–28. in Google Scholar

Nomura, Kazuyuki & Takako Mochizuki. 2018. Native-speakerism perceived by “non-native-speaking” teachers of Japanese in Hong Kong. In Stephanie Ann Houghton & Kayoko Hashimoto (eds.), Towards post-native-speakerism: Dynamics and shifts, 79–95. Singapore: Springer.10.1007/978-981-10-7162-1_5Search in Google Scholar

Orelus, Pierre W. 2016. Accentism exposed: An anticolonial analysis of accent discrimination with some implications for minority languages. In Pierre W. Orelus (ed.), Language, race, and power in schools, 137–147. New York: Routledge.10.4324/9781315536903Search in Google Scholar

Orelus, Pierre W. 2018. Can subaltern professors speak? Examining micro-aggressions and lack of inclusion in the academy. Qualitative Research Journal 18(2). 169–179. in Google Scholar

Park, Mi Yung. 2017. Resisting linguistic and ethnic marginalization: Voices of Southeast Asian marriage-migrant women in Korea. Language and Intercultural Communication 17(2). 118–134. in Google Scholar

Peled, Yael & Matteo Bonotti. 2019. Sound reasoning: Why accent bias matters for democratic theory. The Journal of Politics 81(2). 411–425. in Google Scholar

Petrovic, John. 2011. The civics of language diversity: Human rights, citizenship and English-only. In Joseph L. DeVitis (ed.), Critical civic literacy: A reader, 393–404. New York: Peter Lang.Search in Google Scholar

Phillipson, Robert. 1988. Linguicism: Structures and ideologies in linguistic imperialism. In Tove Skutnabb-Kangas & Jim Cummins (eds.), Minority education: From shame to struggle, 339–358. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Search in Google Scholar

Phillipson, Robert. 1992. Linguistic imperialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Piller, Ingrid. 2016. Linguistic diversity and social justice: An introduction to applied sociolinguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199937240.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Politzer-Ahles, Stephen, Teresa Girolamo & Samantha Ghali. 2020. Preliminary evidence of linguistic bias in academic reviewing. Journal of English for Academic Purposes 47. 1–12. in Google Scholar

Pool, Jonathan. 1987. Thinking about linguistic discrimination. Language Problems and Language Planning 11(1). 3–21. in Google Scholar

Ramjattan, Vijay A. 2019. Racializing the problem of and solution to foreign accent in business. Applied Linguistics Review. in Google Scholar

Reisigl, Martin & Ruth Wodak. 2005. Discourse and discrimination: Rhetorics of racism and antisemitism. New York: Routledge.10.4324/9780203993712Search in Google Scholar

Rhee, M. J. 1992. Language planning in Korea under the Japanese colonial administration, 1910–1945. Language, Culture and Curriculum 5(2). 87–97. in Google Scholar

Rivers, Damian J. 2017. Native-speakerism and the betrayal of the native speaker language-teaching professional. In Damian J. Rivers & Karin Zotzmann (eds.), Isms in language education: Oppression, intersectionality and emancipation, 74–97. Berlin: De Gruyter.10.1515/9781501503085-005Search in Google Scholar

Roche, Gerald. 2019. Articulating language oppression: Colonialism, coloniality and the erasure of Tibet’s minority languages. Patterns of Prejudice 53(5). 487–514. in Google Scholar

Roessel, Janin, Christiane Schoel & Dagmar Stahlberg. 2020. Modern notions of accent-ism: Findings, conceptualizations, and implications for interventions and research on nonnative accents. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 39(1). 87–111. in Google Scholar

Román, Diego, Alberto Pastor & Deni Basaraba. 2019. Internal linguistic discrimination: A survey of bilingual teachers’ language attitudes toward their heritage students’ Spanish. Bilingual Research Journal 42(1). 6–30. in Google Scholar

Ronkin, Maggie & Helen E. Karn. 1999. Mock Ebonics: Linguistic racism in parodies of Ebonics on the Internet. Journal of Sociolinguistics 3(3). 360–380. in Google Scholar

Rosa, Jonathan Daniel. 2016. Standardization, racialization, languagelessness: Raciolinguistic ideologies across communicative contexts. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 26(2). 162–183. in Google Scholar

Rosa, Jonathan & Nelson Flores. 2017. Unsettling race and language: Toward a raciolinguistic perspective. Language in Society 46(5). 621–647. in Google Scholar

Ruecker, Todd & Lindsey Ives. 2015. White native English speakers needed: The rhetorical construction of privilege in online teacher recruitment spaces. TESOL Quarterly 49(4). 733–756. in Google Scholar

Sabaté-Dalmau, Maria. 2018. “I speak small”: Unequal Englishes and transnational identities among Ghanaian migrants. International Journal of Multilingualism 15(4). 365–382. in Google Scholar

Schaub, Mark. 2000. English in the Arab Republic of Egypt. World Englishes 19(2). 225–238. in Google Scholar

Sethi, Rita Chaudhry. 1998. Smells like racism. In Paula S. Rothenberg (ed.), Race, class, and gender in the United States: An integrated study, 154–164. New York: St. Martin’s Press.Search in Google Scholar

Shankar, Shalini. 2017. Linguistic anthropology in 2016: Now what? American Anthropologist 119(2). 319–332. in Google Scholar

Silverstein, Paul A. 2005. Immigrant racialization and the new savage slot: Race, migration, and immigration in the new Europe. Annual Review of Anthropology 34(1). 363–384. in Google Scholar

Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove. 1988. Multilingualism and the education of minority children. In Tove Skutnabb-Kangas & Jim Cummins (eds.), Minority education: From shame to struggle, 9–44. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.10.21670/ref.1989.18-19.a02Search in Google Scholar

Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove. 2015a. Language rights. In Wayne E. Wright, Sovicheth Boun & Ofelia García (eds.), The handbook of bilingual and multilingual education, 185–202. Malden, MA: Wiley.10.1002/9781118533406.ch11Search in Google Scholar

Skutnabb‐Kangas, Tove. 2015b. Linguicism. In Carol A. Chapelle (ed.), The encyclopedia of applied linguistics, 1–6. Chichester, UK: Wiley.10.1002/9781405198431.wbeal1460Search in Google Scholar

Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove. 2016. Linguicism. In Genie Gertz & Patrick Boudreault (eds.), The Sage deaf studies encyclopedia, 185–202. London: Sage.10.1002/9781405198431.wbeal1460Search in Google Scholar

Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove & Robert Phillipson. 1996. Linguicide and linguicism. In Hans Goebl, Peter H. Nelde, Zdenek Stary & Wolfgang Wölck (eds.), Contact linguistics: An international handbook of contemporary research, 667–675. Mouton: De Gruyter.10.1515/9783110132649.1.6.667Search in Google Scholar

Smedley, Audrey & Brian D. Smedley. 2005. Race as biology is fiction, racism as a social problem is real: Anthropological and historical perspectives on the social construction of race. American Psychologist 60(1). 16–26. in Google Scholar

Smith, Patriann. 2019. (Re)positioning in the Englishes and (English) literacies of a Black immigrant youth: Towards a transraciolinguistic approach. Theory into Practice 58(3). 292–303. in Google Scholar

Smith, Patriann. 2020. “How does a Black person speak English?” Beyond American language norms. American Educational Research Journal 57(1). 106–147. in Google Scholar

Spolsky, Bernard. 2004. Language policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Squires, Gregory D. & Jan Chadwick. 2006. Linguistic profiling: A continuing tradition of discrimination in the home insurance industry? Urban Affairs Review 41(3). 400–415. in Google Scholar

Tomlinson, Delorese. 1975. Bi-dialectism: Solution for American minority members. The Speech Teacher 24(3). 232–236. in Google Scholar

Tonelli, Maria Jose, Jussara Pereira, Vanessa Cepellos & João Lins. 2020. Ageing in organizations. RAUSP Management Journal 55. 127–142.10.1108/RAUSP-08-2018-0062Search in Google Scholar

Trudgill, Peter. 2016. Dialect matters: Respecting vernacular language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9781316418109Search in Google Scholar

Uekusa, Shinya. 2019. Disaster linguicism: Linguistic minorities in disasters. Language in Society 48(3). 353–375. in Google Scholar

United Nations. 1966. International covenant on civil and political rights.Search in Google Scholar

van Ostade, Ingrid Tieken-Boon. 2019. Describing prescriptivism: Usage guides and usage problems in British and American English. New York: Routledge.10.4324/9780429263088Search in Google Scholar

Wong, K. Laiana. 2004. He hawa’e kai nui a kau ma kula. Educational Perspectives 37(1). 31–39.10.1176/pn.39.7.0037Search in Google Scholar

Received: 2021-02-06
Accepted: 2021-12-17
Published Online: 2022-04-15
Published in Print: 2022-05-25

© 2022 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

Downloaded on 25.9.2023 from
Scroll to top button