Thursday, November 21, 2019

Fiona Hill’s accent

In her opening statement to the House Intelligence Committee, Fiona Hill, former National Security Council official, explained that she is “an American by choice, having become a citizen in 2002.” She came to the United States in 1988 to do graduate work at Harvard:

Years later, I can say with confidence that this country has offered for me opportunities I never would have had in England. I grew up poor with a very distinctive working-class accent. In England in the 1980s and 1990s, this would have impeded my professional advancement.

This background has never set me back in America.
I find these comments, made by someone who never expected to be a public figure, moving.

[Granted, there are distinctive accents that can and do impede possibilities (employment and housing, for instance) in the United States — for people native-born and non-native-born. But the contrast here is between what would have been available to Hill in England and the United States.]

comments: 2

Sparky said...

This struck me too. As I pointed out on FB this morning: Dr. Hill, daughter of a northern English coal miner, commented this morning that given her very un-posh accent she would not have been afforded the same chances for advancement in England that she received in the US where she did a Ph.D. in History at Harvard. Thankfully, to American ears, anyone who pronounces partisan as "par-tee-san" sounds toff-y enough for us.

Anonymous said...

I found the two witnesses today to be quite credible. Having sat in several meetings that were not quite diplomat level but pretty high with international guests, they are a very different type of meeting and one is quite aware of who is saying what.