Journal of Language and Discrimination, Vol 3, No 1 (2019)

Linguistic prejudice and discrimination in Brazilian Portuguese and beyond : suggestions and recommendations

Paul O'Neill, Gladis Massini-Cagliari
Issued Date: 18 Jul 2019


In this article we make a distinction between the prejudice and discrimination towards (a) different languages and their speakers and (b) different non-standard varieties of the same language and their speakers, and argue that while the discrimination and prejudice towards (a) have been denounced by international institutions and both national and international laws are in place to guarantee the rights of speakers of different languages, the same protection has not been afforded to speakers of non-standard varieties of a language. We examine a specific case of this type of linguistic prejudice in Brazil. We discuss the effectiveness of efforts of linguists to combat linguistic prejudice based on the principle of error correction (Labov 1982) and, drawing on work by Cameron (2012) and Bourdieu (1986), suggest that linguistic prejudice cannot be disentangled from other types of prejudice and that linguists need to have a much deeper understanding of and engagement with the values attached to linguistic forms. We conclude with a number of suggestions and recommendations in order to effectively combat linguistic prejudice.

Download Media

PDF Subscribers Only

DOI: 10.1558/jld.37344


Ação educativa – assessoria, p. e. i. (2011) Por uma vida melhor: intelectuais, pesquisadores e educadores falam sobre o livro. São Paulo.

Avineri, N., Graham, L., Johnson, E. and Conley Riner, R. (2018) Language and Social Justice in Practice. New York: Routledge.

Bagno, M. (2001) A língua de Eulália: novela sociolinguística. São Paulo: Contexto.

Bagno, M. (2002) Preconceito lingüístico – o que é, como se faz. São Paulo: Loyola.

Baratta, A. (2018) Accent and Teacher Identity in Britain: Linguistic Favouritism and Imposed Identities. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Batista de Padua, D. (2014) A polêmica em torno do livro didático ‘por uma vida melhor’: (des)construindo sentidos. Master’s thesis, Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso.

Baugh, J. (2003) Linguistic profiling. In S. Makoni, G. Smitherman, A. F. Ball and A. K. Spears (eds) Black Linguistics: Language, Society, and Politics in Africa and the Americas. London: Routledge.

Boehlert, M. (2005) Self-fulfilling prophecy. In S. W. Lee (ed.) Encyclopedia of School Psychology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Bourdieu, P. (1973) Cultural reproduction and social reproduction. In R. Brown (ed.) Knowledge, Education and Cultural Change: Papers in the Sociology of Education. London: Tavistock Publications.

Bourdieu, P. (1986) The Forms of Capital. In J. G. Richardson (ed.) Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education. Westport, CN: Greenwood Press.

Bourdieu, P. (1991) Language and Symbolic Power. Cambridge: Polity in association with Basil Blackwell.

Bowles, S. (1976) Schooling in Capitalist America: Educational Reform and the Contradictions of Economic Life. London, etc.: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Bucholtz, M. (2018) White affects and sociolinguistic activism. Language in Society 47(3): 350–4.

Cagliari, L. C. (1989) Alfabetização e Lingüística. São Paulo: Scipione.

Cameron, D. (2012a) The one, the many and the other: representing mono- and multilingualism in post-9/11 verbal hygiene. Critical Multilingual Studies 1(2): 59–77.

Cameron, D. (2012b) The one, the many and the other: representing mono- and multilingualism in post-9/11 verbal hygiene. Talk given at the University of Arizona, 4 April.

Cameron, D. (2012c) Verbal Hygiene. London: Routledge.

Campbell-Kibler, K. (2007) Accent, (ing), and the social logic of listener perceptions. American Speech 82: 32–64.

Cavalcanti, M. C. and Maher, T. M. (2018) Multilingual Brazil: Language Resources, Identities and Ideologies in a Globalized World. New York; London: Routledge.

Cooper, H. M. (2000) Pygmalion grows up. In P. K. Smith and A. D. Pellegrini (eds) Psychology of Education: Major Themes. London: Routledge.

Donnellan, M. B., Trzesniewski, K. H., Robins, R. W., Moffitt, T. E. and Caspi, A. (2005) Low self-esteem is related to aggression, antisocial behavior, and delinquency. Psychological Science 16: 328–35.

Eckert, P. (2018) Meaning and Linguistic Variation: The Third Wave in Sociolinguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Edwards, J. R. (1984) Language attitudes and their implications among English speakers. In E. B. Ryan and H. Giles (eds) Attitudes Towards Language Variation: Social and Applied Contexts. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press.

Fargetti, C. M. (2006) Breve história da ortografia da língua Juruna. Estudos da Língua(gem). Questões de Fonética e Fonologia: Uma Homenagem a Luiz Carlos Cagliari 3(1): 123–42.

Fiorin, J. L. (2002) Considerações em torno do Projeto de Lei 1676/99. In C. A. Faraco (ed.) Estrangeirismos – guerras em torno da língua. São Paulo: Parábola.

Flores, N. and Rosa, J. (2015) Undoing Appropriateness: Raciolinguistic Ideologies and Language Diversity in Education. Harvard Educational Review 85: 149–71.

Gergen, K. J. (2009) An Invitation to Social Construction. Los Angeles: Sage.

Godley, A. J., Carpenter, B. D. and Werner, C. A. (2007) ‘I’ll speak in proper slang’: language ideologies in a daily editing activity. Reading Research Quarterly 42: 100–31.

Grainger, K. (2011) ‘The daily grunt’: the resurgence of the deficit model of language competence in children. In Language, Education and Disadvantage, 19–20 April, Sheffield Halllam University, Sheffield.

Grainger, K., and Jones, P. E. (2013) The ‘language deficit argument’ and beyond. Language and Education 27: 95–8.

Guerra, N. G., Williams, K. R. and Sadek, S. (2011) Understanding bullying and victimisation during childhood and adolescence: a mixed methods study. Child Development 82: 295–310.

Hisken, L. J. (2011) The correlation between self-esteem and student reading ability, reading level, and academic achievement. Master’s thesis, University of Central Missouri.

Hofstadter, D. and Sander, E. (2013) Surfaces and Essences Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking. New York: Basic Books.

Irvine, J. T. and Gal, S. (2000) Language ideology and linguistic differentiation. In P. V. Kroskrity (ed.) Regimes of Language: Ideologies, Polities, and Identities. Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press.

Jussim, L. and Harber, K. D. (2005) Teacher expectations and self-fulfilling prophecies: knowns and unknowns, resolved and unresolved controversies. Personality and Social Psychology Review 9: 131–55.

Kamm, O. (2016) Standard English is not tied to a particular accent. The Times, 26 November.

Kang, O. and Rubin, D. L. (2009) Reverse linguistic stereotyping: measuring the effect of listener expectations on speech evaluation. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 28: 441–56.

Labov, W. (1982) Objectivity and commitment in linguistic science: the case of the Black English trial in Ann Arbor. Language in Society 11: 165–201.

Lambert, W. E., Hodgson, R. C., Gardner, R. C. and Fillenbaum, S. (1960) Evaluational reactions to spoken language. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 60: 44–51.

Leiser Baronas, R. and Inês Pagliarini Cox, M. (2003) Por uma vida melhor na mídia: discurso, aforização e polêmica. Linguagem em Discurso 13: 65–93.

Leite, M. Q. (2008) Preconceito e intolerância na linguagem. São Paulo: Contexto.

Leone, M. (2009) The paradox of shibboleth: communitas and immunitas in language and religion. Rivista Italiana Filosofia del linguaggio 1: 131–57.

Lewis, M. C. (2018) A critique of the principle of error correction as a theory of social change. Language and Society 47: 325–46.

Lim, L., Stroud, C. and Wee, L. (eds) (2018) The Multilingual Citizen: Towards a Politics of Language for Agency and Change. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Lucas, S. (1999) Tracking Inequality: Stratification and Mobility in American High Schools (Book Review). New York: Teachers College Press.

Lucchesi, D. (2017) A periodização da história sociolinguística do Brasil. DELTA 33(2): 347–82.

Mallinson, C. and Charity Hudley, A. H. (2018) Turning the lens onto our own language: engaging in critical reflexivity in the pursuit of social change. Language in Society 47: 361–4.

Mallinson, C., Hudley, A., Strickling, L and Figa, M. (2011) A conceptual framework for promoting linguistic and educational change. Language and Linguistics Compass 5: 441–53.

Massini-Cagliari, G. (2001) O texto na alfabetização: coesão e coerência. Campinas: Mercado de Letras.

Massini-Cagliari, G. (2004) Language policy in Brazil: monolingualism and linguistic prejudice. Language Policy 3: 3–23.

Mattos e Siva, R. V. (2004) Para uma sócio-história do Português Brasileiro. São Paulo: Parábola.

May, S. (2018) Commentary. Unanswered questions: addressing the inequalities of majoritarian language policies educating for linguistic citizenship. In L. Lim, C. Stroud and L. Wee (eds) The Multilingual Citizen: Towards a Politics of Language for Agency and Change. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Melo, G. C. d. (1946) A Língua do Brasil. Rio de Janeiro: FGv.

Milani, T. and Jonsson, R. (2018) Linguistic citizenship in Sweden: (de)constructing languages in a context of linguistic human rights. In L. Lim, C. Stroud and L. Wee (eds) The Multilingual Citizen: Towards a Politics of Language for Agency and Change. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Morrison, G. M. and Cosden, M. A. (1997) Risk, resilience and adjustment of individuals with learning disabilities. Learning Disability Quarterly 20: 43–60.

Obregón, L. (2006) Between civilisation and barbarism: creole interventions in international law. Third World Quarterly 27: 815–32.

Oliveira, G. M. d. E. (2003) Declaração Universal dos Direitos Lingüísticos. Novas Perspectivas em Política Lingüística. Campinas: Mercado de Letras, ALB.

Paixão de Sousa, M. C. (2010) A morfologia de flexão no Português do Brasil: ensaio sobre um discurso de ‘perda’. Estudos da Língua(gem) 8: 83–121.

Perini, M. (2003) Sofrendo a Gramática. São Paulo: Ática.

Petrovic, J. (2018) The multilingual citizen: towards a politics of language for agency and change. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 40(2): 180–2.

Philips, J., Smith, B. and Modaff, L. (2004) ‘Please don’t call on me’: self-esteem, communication apprehension, and classroom participation. Journal of Undergraduate Research: University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse 4: 81–7.

Piller, I. (2016) Linguistic Diversity and Social Justice: An Introduction to Applied Sociolinguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Possenti, S. (1998) Os humores da língua: análises linguísticas de piadas. Campinas: Mercado de Letras.

Possenti, S. (2000) Malcomportadas línguas. São Paulo: Parábola.

Possenti, S. (2001) A cor da língua e outras croniquinhas de linguista. Campinas: Mercado de Letras.

Possenti, S. (2009) Língua na mídia. São Paulo: Parábola.

Premsrirat, S. and Bruthiaux, P. (2018) Language rights and ‘thainess’: community-based bilingual education is the key. In L. Lim, C. Stroud and L. Wee (eds) The Multi­lingual Citizen: Towards a Politics of Language for Agency and Change. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Purnell, T., Idsardi, W. and Baugh, J. (1999) Perceptual and phonetic experiments on American English dialect identification. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 18: 10–30.

Ramos, H. S. (2011) Escrever é diferente de falar. In A. a. o. E. Global (ed.) Por uma vida melhor [Coleção Viver e aprender]. São Paulo: Editora Global.

Rickford, J. R. and King, S. (2016) Language and linguistics on trial: hearing Rachel Jeantel (and other vernacular speakers) in the courtroom and beyond. Language 92: 948–88.

Rosenberg, M., Schooler, C. and Schoenbach, C. (1989) Self-esteem and adolescent problems: modeling reciprocal effects. American Sociological Review 54: 1004–18.

Rosenthal, R. and Jacobson, L. (1968) Pygmalion in the Classroom: Teacher Expectation and Pupils’ Intellectual Development. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

Rubin, D. L. (2002) Help! My professor (or doctor or boss) doesn’t talk English! In J. Martin, T. Nakayama and L. Flores (eds) Readings in Intercultural Communication: Experiences and Contexts. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Scherre, M. M. P. (2005) Doa-se lindos filhotes de poodle. São Paulo: Parábola.

Scherre, M. M. P. and Naro, A. J. (2014) Sociolinguistic correlates of negative evaluation: Variable concord in Rio de Janeiro. Language Variation and Change 26: 331–57.

Schweiger, I. (2008) Self-Esteem for a Lifetime: Raising a Successful Child from the Inside Out. Bloomington: AuthorHouse.

Seggie, I., Smith, N. and Hodgins, P. (1986) Evaluations of employment suitability based on accent alone: an Australian case study. Language Sciences 8: 129–40.

Seligman, C. R., Tucker, G. R. and Lambert, W. E. (1972) The effects of speech style and other attributes on teachers’ attitudes toward pupils. Language in Society 1: 131–42.

Siegel, J. (2010) Second Dialect Acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Silva Neto, S. (1950) Introdução ao estudo da língua portuguesa no Brasil. Rio de Janeiro: Presença.

Skutnabb-Kangas, T. (2001) The Globalisation of (Educational) Language rights. International Review of Education 47: 201–19

Skutnabb-Kangas, T. and Phillipson, R. (1997) Linguistic Human Rights and Development. In C.J. Hamelink (ed) Ethics and Development. On Making Moral Choices in Development Co-operation, 56–69. Kampen, The Netherlands: Kok.

Snell, J. (2013) Dialect, interaction and class positioning at school: from deficit to difference to repertoire. Language and Education 27(2).

Snell, J. (2018) Critical reflections on the role of the sociolinguist in UK language debates. Language in Society 47(3): 368–74.

Stroud, C. (2001) African Mother-tongue Programmes and the Politics of Language: Linguistic Citizenship Versus Linguistic Human Rights. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 22:339–55.

Stroud, C. (2018) Linguistic Citizenship. In L. Lim, C. Stroud and L. Wee (eds) The Multilingual Citizen: Towards a Politics of Language for Agency and Change. Bristol: Multilingual Matter.

Turner, J. C. and Patrick, C. (2004) Motivational influences on student participation in classroom learning activities. Teachers College Record 106: 1759–85.

UNESCO (2001) UNESCO Brazil: New Framework for Action. Unesco Digital.

United Nations (1992) Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities.

United Nations Special Rapporteur on minority issues (2017) Language Rights of Linguistic Minorities: A Practical Guide for Implementation.

Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights (1996) World Conference on Linguistic Rights, 6–9 June, Barcelona, Spain.

Wee, L. (2018) Essentialism and Language Rights. in L. Lim, C. Stroud and L. Wee (eds) The Multilingual Citizen: Towards a Politics of Language for Agency and Change. Bristol: Multilingual Matter.

Williams, F. (1976) Explorations in the Language Attitudes of Teachers. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.

Willis, P. E. (1993) Learning to Labour: How Working Class Kids Get Working Class Jobs. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Wolfram, W., Reaser, J. and Vaughn, C. (2008) Operationalizing linguistic gratuity: from principle to practice. Language and Linguistics Compass 2: 1109–34.

Zabel, R. H. and Zabel, M. K. (1996) Classroom Management in Context: Orchestrating Positive Learning Environments. USA: Houghton Mifflin Company.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Equinox Publishing Ltd - 415 The Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 221-0285 - Email: [email protected]

Privacy Policy