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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Rhotic and non-rhotic accents

English pronunciation can be divided into two main accent groups: A rhotic (pronounced /ˈroʊtɨk/) speaker pronounces the letter R in hard and water. A non-rhotic speaker does not pronounce it in hard, and may not in water, or may only pronounce it in water if the following word begins with a vowel. In other words, rhotic speakers pronounce /r/ in all positions, while non-rhotic speakers pronounce /r/ only if it is followed by a vowel sound in the same phrase or prosodic unit (see "linking and intrusive R").
In linguistic terms, non-rhotic accents are said to exclude the sound [r] from the syllable coda before a consonant or prosodic break. This is commonly if misleadingly referred to as "post-vocalic R".

Development of non-rhotic accents


On this map of England, the red areas are where the rural accents were rhotic as of the 1950s. Based on H. Orton et al., Survey of English dialects (196271). Note that some areas with partial rhoticity (for example parts of the East Riding of Yorkshire) are not shaded on this map.
Red areas are where English dialects of the late 20th century were rhotic. Based on P. Trudgill, The Dialects of England.
The earliest traces of a loss of /r/ in English are found in the environment before /s/ in spellings from the mid-15th century: the Oxford English Dictionary reports bace for earlier barse (today "bass", the fish) in 1440 and passel for parcel in 1468. In the 1630s, the word juggernaut is first attested, which represents the Sanskrit word jagannāth, meaning "lord of the universe". The English spelling uses the digraph er to represent a Hindi sound close to the English schwa. Loss of coda /r/ apparently became widespread in southern England during the 18th century; John Walker uses the spelling ar to indicate the broad A of aunt in his 1775 dictionary and reports that card is pronounced "caad" in 1791 (Labov, Ash, and Boberg 2006: 47).
Non-rhotic speakers pronounce an /r/ in red, and most pronounce it in torrid and watery, where R is followed by a vowel, but not in hard, nor in car or water when those words are said in isolation. However, in most non-rhotic accents, if a word ending in written "r" is followed closely by a word beginning with a vowel, the /r/ is pronounced—as in water ice. This phenomenon is referred to as "linking R". Many non-rhotic speakers also insert epenthetic /r/s between vowels when the first vowel is one that can occur before syllable-final r (drawring for drawing). This so-called "intrusive R" has been stigmatized, but even speakers of so-called Received Pronunciation frequently "intrude" an epenthetic /r/ at word boundaries, especially where one or both vowels is schwa; for example the idea of it becomes the idea-r-of it, Australia and New Zealand becomes Australia-r-and New Zealand. The typical alternative used by RP speakers is to insert a glottal stop where an intrusive R would otherwise be placed.[1]
For non-rhotic speakers, what was historically a vowel plus /r/ is now usually realized as a long vowel. So in Received Pronunciation (RP) and many other non-rhotic accents card, fern, born are pronounced [kɑːd], [fɜːn], [bɔːn] or something similar; the pronunciations vary from accent to accent. This length may be retained in phrases, so while car pronounced in isolation is [kɑː], car owner is [kɑːɹəʊnə]. But a final schwa usually remains short, so water in isolation is [wɔːtə]. In RP and similar accents the vowels /iː/ and /uː/ (or /ʊ/), when followed by r, become diphthongs ending in schwa, so near is [nɪə] and poor is [pʊə], though these have other realizations as well, including monophthongal ones; once again, the pronunciations vary from accent to accent. The same happens to diphthongs followed by R, though these may be considered to end in /ər/ in rhotic speech, and it is the /ər/ that reduces to schwa as usual in non-rhotic speech: tire said in isolation is [taɪə] and sour is [saʊə].[2] For some speakers, some long vowels alternate with a diphthong ending in schwa, so wear may be [wɛə] but wearing [wɛːɹiŋ].

Mergers characteristic of non-rhotic accents


Some phonetic mergers are characteristic of non-rhotic accents. These usually include one item that historically contained an R (lost in the non-rhotic accent), and one that never did so. The section below lists mergers in order of approximately decreasing prevalence.
  • panda-pander. In the terminology of Wells (1982) this consists of the merger of the lexical sets commA and lettER. It is found in all or nearly all non-rhotic accents,[3] and is even present in some accents that are in other respects rhotic, such as those of some speakers in Jamaica and the Bahamas.[3] Other possible homophones include area-airier, cheetah-cheater, cornea-cornier, formally-formerly, manna-manner/manor, rota-rotor, schema-schemer, tuba-tuber and pharma-farmer.
  • father-farther In Wells's terminology, this consists of the merger of the lexical sets PALM and START. It is found in the speech of the great majority of non-rhotic speakers, including those of England, Wales, the United States, the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. It may be absent in some non-rhotic speakers in the Bahamas.[3] Other possible homophones include alms-arms, balmy-barmy, lava-larva and spa-spar
  • pawn-porn. In Wells's terminology, this consists of the merger of the lexical sets THOUGHT and NORTH. It is found in the same accents as the father-farther merger described above, but is absent from the Bahamas and Guyana.[3] Other possible homophones include awe-or, caulk-cork, gnaw-nor, laud-lord, stalk-stork, talk-torque, taught-tort and thaw-Thor.
  • caught-court. In Wells's terminology, this consists of the merger of the lexical sets THOUGHT and FORCE. It is found in those non-rhotic accents containing the pawn-porn merger that have also undergone the horse-hoarse merger. These include the accents of Southern England, Wales, non-rhotic New York City speakers, Trinidad and the Southern hemisphere. In such accents a three-way merger awe-or-ore/oar results. Other possible homophones include bawd-board, flaw-floor, fought-fort, law-lore, paw-pour/pore, raw-roar, sauce-source, saw-sore/soar and Shaw-shore.
  • calve-carve. In Wells's terminology, this consists of the merger of the lexical sets BATH and START. It is found in some non-rhotic accents with broad A in words like "bath". It is general in southern England (excluding rhotic speakers), Trinidad, the Bahamas, and the Southern hemisphere. It is a possibility for Welsh, Eastern New England, Jamaican, and Guyanese speakers. Other possible homophones include aunt-aren't, fast-farced and pass-parse.
  • paw-poor. In Wells's terminology, this consists of the merger of the lexical sets THOUGHT and CURE It is found in those non-rhotic accents containing the caught-court merger that have also undergone the pour-poor merger. Wells lists it unequivocally only for the accent of Trinidad, but it is an option for non-rhotic speakers in England, Australia and New Zealand. Such speakers have a potential four-way merger taw-tor-tore-tour.[4]. Other possible homophones include Shaw-sure, tawny-tourney and yaw-your
  • batted-battered. This merger is present in non-rhotic acents which have undergone the weak vowel merger. Such accents include Australian, New Zealand, most South African speech, and some non-rhotic English speech. Other possible homophones include arches-archers, chatted-chattered, founded-foundered, matted-mattered, offices-officers, sauces-saucers, splendid-splendo(u)red and tended-tendered.
  • dough-door. In Wells's terminology, this consists of the merger of the lexical sets GOAT and FORCE. It may be found in some southern US non-rhotic speech, some speakers of African American Vernacular English, some speakers in Guyana and some Welsh speech.[3] Other possible homophones include coat-court, flow-floor, foe-four/fore, go-gore, hoe-whore, poach-porch, poke-pork, row-roar, show-shore, snow-snore, stow-store, toe-tore and woe-wore.
  • show-sure. In Wells's terminology, this consists of the merger of the lexical sets GOAT and CURE. It may be present in those speakers who have both the dough-door merger described above, and also the pour-poor merger. These include some southern US non-rhotic speakers, some speakers of African American Vernacular English,and some speakers in Guyana.[3] Other possible homophones include Poe-poor, toe-tour, and goad-gourd
  • often-orphan. In Wells's terminology, this consists of the merger of the lexical sets CLOTH and NORTH. It may be present in old-fashioned Eastern New England accents,[5], some New York speakers [6] and also in some speakers in Jamaica and Guyana. It was also present in some words in old-fashioned Received Pronunciation. Other possible homophones include moss-Morse and off-Orff.
  • God-guard. In Wells's terminology, this consists of the merger of the lexical sets LOT and START. It may be present in non-rhotic accents that have undergone the father-bother merger. These may include some New York accents,[7] some southern US accents,[8] and African American Vernacular English.[9]. Other possible homophones include cod-card, hot-heart, lodge-large, pot-part, potty-party, and shop-sharp.
  • shot-short. In Wells's terminology, this consists of the merger of the lexical sets LOT and NORTH. It may be present in some Eastern New England accents.[10][11]. Other possible homophones include cock-cork, cod-cord, con-corn, odder-order and stock-stork.
  • oil-earl. In Wells's terminology, this consists of the merger of the lexical sets CHOICE and NURSE preconsonantally. It was present in older New York accents, but became stigmatized and is sharply recessive in those born since the Second World War.[12]. Other possible homophones include adjoin-adjourn, Boyd-bird, coil-curl, oily-early and voice-verse
In some accents, syllabication may interact with rhoticity, resulting in homophones where nonrhotic accents have centering diphthongs. Possibilities include Korea-career[13], Shi'a-sheer, and Maia-mire,[14] while skua may be identical with the second syllable of obscure.[15]

Distribution of rhotic and non-rhotic accents


Examples of rhotic accents are: Mid Ulster English, Canadian English and General American. Non-rhotic accents include Received Pronunciation, New Zealand, Australian, South African and Estuary English.
Final post-vocalic /r/ in farmer in English rural dialects of the 1950s[16]
GREEN - [ə] (non-rhotic)
YELLOW - [əʴ] (alveolar)
ORANGE - [əʵ] (retroflex)
PINK - [əʵː] (& long)
BLUE - [əʶ] (uvular)
VIOLET - [ɔʶ] (back & rounded)
Most speakers of most of North American English are rhotic, as are speakers from Barbados, Scotland and most of Ireland.
In England, rhotic accents are found in the West Country (south and the west of a line from near Shrewsbury to around Portsmouth), the Corby area, most of Lancashire (north and east of the centre of Manchester), some parts of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire and in the areas that border Scotland. The prestige form, however, exerts a steady pressure towards non-rhoticity. Thus the urban speech of, say, Bristol or Southampton is more accurately described as variably rhotic, the degree of rhoticity being reduced as one moves up the class and formality scales.[17]
Most speakers of Indian English have a rhotic accent.[18] Other areas with rhotic accents include Otago and Southland in the far south of New Zealand's South Island, where a Scottish influence is apparent.
Areas with non-rhotic accents include Australia, most of the Caribbean, most of England (including Received Pronunciation speakers), most of New Zealand, Wales, and Singapore.
Canada is entirely rhotic except for small isolated areas in southwestern New Brunswick, parts of Newfoundland, and Lunenburg and Shelburne Counties, Nova Scotia.
In the United States, much of the South was once non-rhotic, but in recent decades non-rhotic speech has declined. Today, non-rhoticity in Southern American English is found primarily among older speakers, and only in some areas such as New Orleans (where it is known as the Yat dialect), southern Alabama, Savannah, Georgia, and Norfolk, Virginia. [19] Parts of New England, especially Boston, are non-rhotic as well as New York City and surrounding areas. The case of New York is especially interesting because of a classic study in sociolinguistics by William Labov showing that the non-rhotic accent is associated with older and middle- to lower-class speakers, and is being replaced by the rhotic accent. African American Vernacular English (AAVE) is largely non-rhotic.
There are a few accents of Southern American English where intervocalic /r/ is deleted before an unstressed syllable and at the end of a word even when the following word begins with a vowel. In such accents, pronunciations like [kæəlaːnə] for Carolina and [bɛːʌp] for "bear up" are heard.[20] These pronunciations also occur in AAVE.[21]
In Asia, India[18] and the Philippines have rhotic dialects. In the case of the Philippines, this may be explained because the English that is spoken there is heavily influenced by the American dialect. In addition, many East Asians (in China, Japan, and Korea) who have a good command of English generally have rhotic accents because of the influence of American English.

Similar phenomena in other languages

This article contains Chinese text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Chinese characters. The rhotic consonant is dropped or vocalized under similar conditions in other Germanic languages, notably German, Danish and some dialects of southern Sweden (possibly because of its proximity to Denmark). In most varieties of German, /r/ in the syllable coda is frequently realized as a vowel or a semivowel, [ɐ] or [ɐ̯], especially in the unstressed ending -er and after long vowels: for example sehr [zeːɐ̯], besser [ˈbɛsɐ]. Similarly, Danish /r/ after a vowel is, unless preceded by a stressed vowel, either pronounced [ɐ̯] (mor "mother" [moɐ̯ˀ], næring "nourishment" [ˈnɛɐ̯eŋ]) or merged with the preceding vowel while usually influencing its vowel quality (/a(ː)r/ and /ɔːr/ or /ɔr/ are realised as long vowels [aː] and [ɒː], and /ər/, /rə/ and /rər/ are all pronounced [ɐ]) (løber "runner" [ˈløːb̥ɐ], Søren Kierkegaard (personal name) [ˌsœːɐn ˈkʰiɐ̯ɡ̊əˌɡ̊ɒːˀ]).
Among the Turkic languages, Uyghur displays more or less the same feature, as syllable-final /r/ is dropped, while the preceding vowel is lengthened: for example Uyghurlar [ʔʊɪˈʁʊːlaː]Uyghurs’. The /r/ may, however, sometimes be pronounced in unusually "careful" or "pedantic" speech; in such cases, it is often mistakenly inserted after long vowels even when there is no phonemic /r/ there.
In standard Khmer the final /r/ is unpronounced. If an /r/ occurs as the second consonant of a cluster in a minor syllable, it is also unpronounced. The informal speech of Phnom Penh has gone a step further, dropping the /r/ when it occurs as the second consonant of a cluster in a major syllable while leaving behind a dipping tone. When an /r/ occurs as the initial of a syllable, it becomes uvular in contrasts to the trilled /r/ in standard speech.
Similarly in Yaqui, an indigenous language of northern Mexico, intervocalic or syllable-final /r/ is often dropped with lengthening of the previous vowel: pariseo becomes [paːˈseo], sewaro becomes [sewajo].
In some dialects of Brazilian Portuguese, word-final /r/ is unpronounced or becomes simply an aspiration (mostly in the interior of Minas Gerais, São Paulo, Paraná and Mato Grosso do Sul states), while in Thai, pre-consonantal /r/ is unpronounced.
Andalusian Spanish is the only Spanish dialect with an unpronounced word-final /r/.[citation needed]
In Mandarin, the variety of Chinese that forms the basis of the national language, coda [ɻ] is only pronounced in some areas, including Beijing, while in others it tends to be silent. 二 "two", for instance, is pronounced [ɑ̂ɻ] in rhotic areas only.

Effect on spelling

This article contains Chinese text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Chinese characters.
This article contains Indic text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks or boxes, misplaced vowels or missing conjuncts instead of Indic text.
Spellings based on non-rhotic pronunciation of dialectal or foreign words can result in mispronunciations if read by rhotic speakers. In addition to juggernaut mentioned above, the following are found:
  • "Er", to indicate a filled pause, as a British spelling of what Americans would render "uh".
  • The Korean family name usually written "Park" in English.
  • The game Parcheesi.
  • British English slang words:
    • "char" for "cha" from the Mandarin Chinese pronunciation of 茶 (= "tea" (the drink))
    • "nark" (= "informer") from Romany "nāk" (= "nose").
  • In Rudyard Kipling's books:
    • "dorg" instead of "dawg" for a drawled pronunciation of "dog".
    • Hindu god name Kama misspelled as "Karma" (which refers to a concept in several Asian religions, not a god).
    • Hindustani कागज़ "kāgaz" (= "paper") spelled as "kargaz".
  • "Burma" and "Myanmar" for Burmese [bəmà] and [mjàmmà].
  • The development of "ass" (buttocks) as a variant of arse (later standardized as US usage).

See also

References

  1. ^ Wells, Accents of English, 1:224.
  2. ^ New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary
  3. ^ a b c d e f Wells (1982)
  4. ^ Wells, p. 287
  5. ^ Wells, p. 524
  6. ^ Wells (1982), p. 503
  7. ^ Wells (1982), p. 504
  8. ^ Wells (1982), p. 544
  9. ^ Wells (1982), p. 577
  10. ^ Wells, p. 520
  11. ^ Dillard, Joey Lee (1980). Perspectives on American English
     
    . The Hague; New York: Walter de Gruyter. p. 53. ISBN 9027933677. http://books.google.com/books?id=6zPgjduXBcQC
     
    .
     
  12. ^ Wells (1982), pp. 508-509
  13. ^ Wells (1982), p. 225
  14. ^ Upton, Clive; Eben Upton (2004). Oxford rhyming dictionary. Oxford University Press. p. 59. ISBN 0192801155. 
  15. ^ Upton, Clive; Eben Upton (2004). Oxford rhyming dictionary. Oxford University Press. p. 60. ISBN 0192801155. 
  16. ^ Wakelyn, Martin: "Rural dialects in England", in: Trudgill, Peter (1984): Language in the British Isles, p.77
  17. ^ Trudgill, Peter (1984). Language in the British Isles. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521284090, 9780521284097. 
  18. ^ a b Wells, J. C. (1982). Accents of English 3: Beyond the British Isles. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 629. ISBN 0521285410. 
  19. ^ Labov, Ash, and Boberg, 2006: pp. 4748.
  20. ^ Harris 2006: pp. 25.
  21. ^ Pollock et al., 1998.

Bibliography

Links








Friday, September 11, 2009

Vegan advocacy for introverts

Roanoke Vegan Examiner

 

 

Vegan advocacy for introverts





September
10, 4:02 AMRoanoke Vegan ExaminerCorey Wrenn
6 comments Print Email RSS Subscribe

     Vegan activism need not be intimidating!




 












Vegan advocacy is often veryoff-putting for introvertive folks who find speaking to others about moral or political issues terrifying.  However, even the very shy can make a difference for non-human animals.  When it comes down to it, you can go very far in your outreach without having speaking to anyone face to face.  By adopting these ten easy activities, the number of people reached could be substantial.  Vegan outreach need not be intimidating, but it should be pervasive and persistent.  There's no reason for anyone who recognizes the inherent injustice and the terrible truth of non-human animal use to stand by idly.

1.    The Vegan Car
Those in traffic will have no choice but to read your thought-provoking bumper stickers.  From parking lots to interstates, a well-labeled vegan car is effective outreach en mass.  Vanity  plates, too, while limited in their breadth, are excellent vehicles for outreach.

2.     Vegan Voicemail
A vegan-related voicemail or answering machine message is great for frequent-callers, new friends, and businesses who must listen to the voicemail to leave a message.  Often you will find your message is prefaced by the caller's reaction!

3.     Vegan Snail Mail
Always slip vegan literature into all outgoing mail, especially bills.  Don’t forget to seal the envelope with a vegan sticker!

4.     Vegan "Litter"
Always carry vegan literature with you.  Small brochures like Gary Francione’s Abolitionist Approach pamphlet, are easy to carry in your purse, backpack, or glove box.  Leave them in veterinarian’s offices, gyms, public spaces on campus or at work, etc.

5.    Internet Social Networking
By regularly posting articles, videos, or comments regarding vegan abolitionist animal rights on networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter, you can access a large network of friends and friends of friends.

6.     Vegan Email
Add a vegan-oriented quote to your email signature.  If your email allows, a small photograph also draws attention and sparks thought.

7.     Vegan News
While writing an editorial might seem daunting, non-human animal issues are often popular with newspapers and magazines.  The uniqueness of the abolitionist vegan approach is also useful for getting printed.   If one source turns you down, simply send it to another.   If the writing is good, it is unlikely it will be rejected indefinitely.

8.     Vegan Food
Bring a delicious vegan dish to company, group, or family get togethers.  Make sure it is labeled vegan.  If the crowd is likely to be closed-minded to death-free dining, don’t mention the dish to be vegan until after they’ve enjoyed it.
9.     The Vegan Public Space
Offices, dorms, cubicles, etc. are seen by countless persons.  If permitted, post vegan fliers and lay literature out for the passerby to peruse.  If possible, plaster doors with bright, eye-catching vegan material to enlighten.

10.     Be Vegan and Stay Vegan
Simply being vegan is in itself superb direct action for non-human animals.   Living your life day to day, you will make choices that will positively impact non-human animals and those around  you.  Help destroy the negative stereotype surrounding vegans.  Maintaining a well-adjusted, happy vegan front is the easiest and most effective activism you can accomplish.

Vegan advocacy for introverts

Roanoke Vegan Examiner

 

 

Vegan advocacy for introverts





September
10, 4:02 AMRoanoke Vegan ExaminerCorey Wrenn
6 comments Print Email RSS Subscribe

     Vegan activism need not be intimidating!




 












Vegan advocacy is often veryoff-putting for introvertive folks who find speaking to others about moral or political issues terrifying.  However, even the very shy can make a difference for non-human animals.  When it comes down to it, you can go very far in your outreach without having speaking to anyone face to face.  By adopting these ten easy activities, the number of people reached could be substantial.  Vegan outreach need not be intimidating, but it should be pervasive and persistent.  There's no reason for anyone who recognizes the inherent injustice and the terrible truth of non-human animal use to stand by idly.

1.    The Vegan Car
Those in traffic will have no choice but to read your thought-provoking bumper stickers.  From parking lots to interstates, a well-labeled vegan car is effective outreach en mass.  Vanity  plates, too, while limited in their breadth, are excellent vehicles for outreach.

2.     Vegan Voicemail
A vegan-related voicemail or answering machine message is great for frequent-callers, new friends, and businesses who must listen to the voicemail to leave a message.  Often you will find your message is prefaced by the caller's reaction!

3.     Vegan Snail Mail
Always slip vegan literature into all outgoing mail, especially bills.  Don’t forget to seal the envelope with a vegan sticker!

4.     Vegan "Litter"
Always carry vegan literature with you.  Small brochures like Gary Francione’s Abolitionist Approach pamphlet, are easy to carry in your purse, backpack, or glove box.  Leave them in veterinarian’s offices, gyms, public spaces on campus or at work, etc.

5.    Internet Social Networking
By regularly posting articles, videos, or comments regarding vegan abolitionist animal rights on networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter, you can access a large network of friends and friends of friends.

6.     Vegan Email
Add a vegan-oriented quote to your email signature.  If your email allows, a small photograph also draws attention and sparks thought.

7.     Vegan News
While writing an editorial might seem daunting, non-human animal issues are often popular with newspapers and magazines.  The uniqueness of the abolitionist vegan approach is also useful for getting printed.   If one source turns you down, simply send it to another.   If the writing is good, it is unlikely it will be rejected indefinitely.

8.     Vegan Food
Bring a delicious vegan dish to company, group, or family get togethers.  Make sure it is labeled vegan.  If the crowd is likely to be closed-minded to death-free dining, don’t mention the dish to be vegan until after they’ve enjoyed it.
9.     The Vegan Public Space
Offices, dorms, cubicles, etc. are seen by countless persons.  If permitted, post vegan fliers and lay literature out for the passerby to peruse.  If possible, plaster doors with bright, eye-catching vegan material to enlighten.

10.     Be Vegan and Stay Vegan
Simply being vegan is in itself superb direct action for non-human animals.   Living your life day to day, you will make choices that will positively impact non-human animals and those around  you.  Help destroy the negative stereotype surrounding vegans.  Maintaining a well-adjusted, happy vegan front is the easiest and most effective activism you can accomplish.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Who is NOT a Minority?? Promoting Physical Activity in Minority Populations

Abstract and Introduction

Abstract

This review discusses evidence-based perspectives on promoting physical activity in minority populations. Future directions for inquiry and empirically driven public policy initiatives also are addressed.

Introduction

Over the past decade, considerable attention has focused on the nation's physical inactivity epidemic. Notwithstanding myriad public health mandates propped up by a welter of initiatives reminding Americans about exercise's broad-spectrum benefits and prompting them to "get active," too many remain sedentary.[1,2] Regrettably, ethnic and cultural minorities disproportionately bear the brunt of this health-zapping lifestyle.[311]
Powered by recognition of its threat-multiplying potential for underserved populations already burdened by health disparities, physical inactivity has become a high-value intervention target. Yet, despite some noteworthy strides, resetting sedentary lifestyles remains challenging.[5,9,1117]
To be sure, minority-focused research has only just begun to explore the complex dynamic of biopsychosocial factors that shape activity habits and crimp efforts to unwind them. Nevertheless, although many details remain sketchy, converging evidence increasingly high-lights the corrosive role of social disadvantage as one prime suspect at or near the epicenter of disproportionate minority risk.

Social Disadvantage as an Activity-relevant Risk Factor

Recent research has provided tantalizing clues to the tangled web of activity-relevant processes in which socioeconomic status (SES) is inextricably inter-twined at the biological, psychological, and social levels. For instance, poverty may set limits on potential activity trajectories by taking a toll on optimal physiological maturation and brain development, raising both near-and long-term risks for cascading adversities (eg, growth delays and cognitive problems) that can tamp down intellectual and self-regulatory capabilities.[1820]
Social disadvantage also profoundly affects psychological mediators of active lifestyles, magnifying risks for activity barriers such as negative attributional style (eg, feelings of low self-efficacy, diminished perceptions of control) and activity-hindering emotions (eg, depressed and/ or anxious mood).[19,2124] Minority girls, for example, have reported low exercise self-efficacy (including discouragement at initial signs of perceived exertion, high anxiety, and feelings of low self-esteem during activity training) that deters exercise participation.[19,25] Other evidence similarly highlights the robust relationship between negative emotions (eg, depressed mood, perceived hopelessness) and health risk behaviors, especially among urban minority youth.[21,24,26,27] Accordingly, attention to such psychological stumbling blocks may be crucial to fostering exercise readiness in underserved populations.[11,19] Indeed, these preparatory steps toward action would seem well worth the effort considering the psychological and physical benefits that accrue to ethnic and cultural minorities who regularly participate in leisure-time activity.[68,19,2831]
At the sociocultural level, physical activity can be foiled by numerous SES-related processes that constrain educational opportunities, health literacy, and resource access, thereby limiting exposure to contexts in which habitual exercise is modeled and encouraged.[20,21,24] For instance, attitudes about physical activity often are rooted in broader social and cultural traditions that may or may not coincide with professional health ecommendations. These commonsense models[32,33] wield considerable leverage on activity preferences and practices.[4,68,11,30,3238]
To cite but one of many possible examples, acculturation has been associated with physical activity across diverse groups. As a case in point, Anglo-acculturated Latinas (ie, those acculturated toward the US mainstream) have reported being more physically active than their more traditional Mexican-acculturated counterparts.[39] These findings parallel those based on other minority participants (eg, American-Indian, African-American) in demonstrating the influence of culturally driven schema on activity habits.[68,34,35] Results such as these emphasize the importance of exploring exercise-relevant conceptualizations as a prelude to activity interventions.[4,68,11,30,3439]
As indicated above, social disadvantage limits social capital, one especially relevant form of which is activity-linked social support.[21,23,24] That is to say, although loved ones' unconditional positive regard offers numerous benefits, its sheer noncontingency typically renders it suboptimal for promoting exercise. Indeed, significant others' generic support for beloved kin (regardless of lifestyle) often is counterproductive to healthful behavior change. It is this activity-specific encouragement that may be hampered by SES-related processes.[68,11,40]
Along these lines, research[40] has underscored the activity-enhancing advantages of social encouragement (ie, accentuating activity benefits) over social constraint (ie, emphasizing sedentariness hazards).[11,40] Unfortunately, because underserved patients typically access health care on an emergent (versus preventive) basis, they may be most likely to receive lifestyle modification advice in the form of social constraint during crisis-oriented, teachable moments.[1,2,11]
Even when effectively delivered, professional admonitions may be offset by pervasive, health-detrimental media messages. In response to media's well-documented adverse consequences (eg, from both observing media models of unhealthful habits and sitting motion-less during hours of passive viewing), professionals now urge parents to limit youngsters' screen time.[4144] Unfortunately, children from socially disadvantaged families may be especially vulnerable to harmful media influences.[7]
In a vivid illustration conducted at preschools for low-income children, Robinson and colleagues[45] recently examined the effects of fast-food branding on taste preferences. Results revealed that 3-to 5-year-old ethnically and culturally diverse children preferred food and drinks (including items such as carrots and milk) they believed were from McDonald's. Central to the point of the present discussion, however, this branding effect was moderated by the number of television sets at home and the frequency of McDonald's food consumption, reinforcing the covariation of risk behaviors that frequently has been observed throughout the health hazards literature.[68,21,2629,34,35,46]
Social disadvantage also undermines physical activity through ecological and environmental inputs such as exercisethwarting social policies and features of the built environment such as the lack of recreation facilities (eg, absence of walking trails and bike paths), neighborhood walkability (eg, few sidewalks, unattractive surroundings), and safety (eg, presence of stray dogs, high crime). In short, disadvantaged neighborhoods are unlikely to provide an optimal context for infusing habitual activity into daily life.[4,68,11,19,30,3438,4749]]

Promoting Active Lifestyles

Considering activity's biopsychosocial influences, the fight against sedentary lifestyles must engage on many fronts simultaneously,[69,11,15,50] reaching beyond traditional providers and medical settings to include indigenous mediators and venues tailored to ethnic and cultural considerations.[5,9,1217,28,29,46,51,52] Despite the seemingly fitful progress to date, evidence of incremental victories are beginning to dapple the scientific landscape. Leveraging these stepwise achievements into sustainable lifestyle gains will be challenging but, given the potential benefits, are well worth the effort.

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Authors and Disclosures

Lisa Terre, PhD

From the Department of Psychology, University of Missouri–Kansas City.
Address correspondence to
Lisa Terre, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Missouri–Kansas City, 4825 Troost Building, Suite 123, Kansas City, MO 64110-2499; e-mail: terrel@umkc.edu.
Am J Lifestyle Med. 2009;3(3):195-197. © 2009 Sage Publications, Inc.