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Wheel of Fortune’s anti-Southern bias costs contestant

December 23, 2012

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.

Click here for the full article

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.

Also see: Mocking rural people while opposing the Empire, The US war on the Texas accent and Study: US bias against Southern accent starts early

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  • tonyj

    Below is my comment to the producers of the show. Hope it helps, but I seriously doubt that they even read it.

    “I am contacting you to express my extreme displeasure as to the handling of contestant Renee Durette on a recent show. The judges ruled that her answer “Seven swans -a-swimmin'” was incorrect because her Southern accent and speech caused the answer to be “spoken in vernacular”, even after she specifically asked for the letter “g” be displayed, clearly demonstrating her knowledge of the correct spelling and usage of the language. I’ll wager that if the answer were “Park the car in the Harvard yard”, that a Bostonian’s answer of “pahk the cah in the Hahvahd yahd” would have presented no problems. Likewise, I’ll bet no one would even lift an eyebrow if a Black contestant were to use “axed” instead of “asked”. Or, maybe you just didn’t like her because she is a member of the military. At any rate, your attitude of discrimination toward the Southern dialect is duly noted, and abhorred.

    Deo Vindice!!

  • Anti-Federalist

    This is off topic but I thought many of you would enjoy this

  • Big Chuck

    I just saw a thing on abc, family was watching it when I got home from work(night shifter), where they were discussing it and not happy either. I was kind of surprised that they actually did say anything about it condemning wheel of fortune for doing that considering it was done to a southerner. Although, there was a bit of delusion it seems with one of the things they had to say: “all because she is a little bit southern, here…in modern day america” was stated as though surprised that such an act was done. At least they recognized what was done on wheel of fortune as being anti-southern, even if they did try to pretend that such things aren’t typical.

  • Anti-Federalist

    “much as Bostonians tend not to pronounce the ‘h’ in ‘human’ or the ‘r’ in ‘car.’”

    I wonder if a Bostonian uttered the phrase “Park your car in Harvard yard” (pronounced by Bostonians as “Pak ya ca in Havad yad”) if they would have accepted this answer.

  • Anti-Federalist

    BTW, here is a better video

  • Sentinel7

    Boy! That is real good judging! So, the deny her win cause she spelled with a “g” but did not pronounce it then turn around and let the next contestant continue her turn after the Wheel stopped on “Lose a Turn”! That is REAL good!

    Two wrongs do NOT a right make! When are they going to correct their mistakes?


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