The television show Wheel of Fortune has punished a contestant over her use of Southern English, causing her to lose thousands of dollars and handing victory on the game show to another contestant (see video below). This is just the most recent reminder of the broad anti-Southern bias in the United States. The host of the show, Pat Sajak, is from Chicago. ABC news reports:
Contestant Renee Durette was on a roll toward thousands of dollars on the game show “Wheel of Fortune.”
She had the winning answer to the word puzzle – “Seven Swans a Swimming” – or so she thought.
Durette, a Navy Intel Specialist from Merritt Island, Fla., dropped the “g” – pronouncing “swimming” as “swimmin’.”
Host Pat Sajak had to backtrack and said he couldn’t accept her answer, costing her the $3,850 she had accumulated.
“That’s kind of how I speak, you know, being from Florida and I asked for the ‘g’ so I knew it was there,” Durette said.
Judges said the answer violated the rules because it was spoken in vernacular.
The decision sparked outrage on Twitter and even the other contestant who was handed the win couldn’t believe it.
One of the features of the Southern dialect is that the ‘g’ at the end of present progressive verbs is generally not pronounced, much as Bostonians tend not to pronounce the ‘h’ in ‘human’ or the ‘r’ in ‘car.’ This leads one to wonder if someone with a regional dialect other than Southern would have been treated in this manner? It seems doubtful. A recent study showed that non-Southern children in the US acquire from their surroundings a strong anti-Southern bias at a young age. National Public Radio has reported on how the Southern accent is in decline, with some Southerners purposely attempting to drop this marker of their identity and culture due to the anti-Southern attitude pervasive in US society.
Wheel of Fortune may be contacted via the ‘Feedback’ page on their website at this link. Please let them know that their anti-Southern bias is not appreciated.