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Linguistics "Understanding African-American English"

Discussion in 'Social Sciences & Humanities' started by Spang, Jul 11, 2012.

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  1. Envy

    Envy Just lazing around

    Try writing a formal resume or letter without proper grammar.

    There is a large difference, in this context.
  2. Skylark

    Skylark Famous Member

    The thing that really annoys me about the insistence on learning standardized language forms to better one's economic or social standing is it tends to assume that of course everyone would want a higher economic or social standing than that which they can achieve through nonstandardized language. It seems to be a case of the rich and middle class folks telling the poor folks "We know what's best for you; you're too stupid to figure out what you want." While it may be true that more-standardized-language is a prerequisite for many types of socioeconomic improvement, I would hesitate to tell someone that OF COURSE they must want more than what they have now. If they decide for themselves they want such socioeconomic improvement, resources should be available to them. The true tragedy is when the resources aren't.
  3. K-II

    K-II Famous Member

    That may or may not be true, but aren't people supposedly better at learning other languages when they're younger anyway? I think it would make sense to include the standard along with whatever else they're taught, and then later on if they never feel the need to pursue it any further, fine. But if they do, they'd be better off at it than if they were starting from the very beginning.
  4. Skylark

    Skylark Famous Member

    Oh, I'm all for teaching standardized languages in schools, but not necessarily exclusively. School should be for teaching the skills people need to advance themselves socioeconomically. In some areas, it may benefit the people of an area to not just know the standard tongue but also a variant or two. Although English is dominant in the US, it benefits me in my job that I also know Spanish. I've also picked up on a fair amount of the local AAVE through this job, where many of my clients speak it.

    Also, not everywhere has compulsory education. Then it really is much more up to the individual how much they want to educate themselves.
  5. Spang

    Spang Foot Fetisher

    Found a combination of words on Tumblr that I thought was interesting, in response to this:

    The combination of words:

    • Like Like x 1
  6. FortyTwo

    FortyTwo Custom Title

    Even taking any and all racial context away from this discussion: language is constantly evolving. Even the stuffiest and most standard-English-adhering of us speak today would be indecipherable to someone from two hundred years ago anywhere in the world. Trying to enforce some universal standard version of a language is a battle you're going to lose.

    I used to be very particular about these things. I would call people out on any kind of 'incorrect' grammar usage. But as I came to the realization that language is always changing, and that our culture is actually better for this (we are constantly running into new concepts and shifting our understanding of old ones, so new words and remixed words improve our ability to communicate), I ended up with a rule that I think everyone should follow if they want to be a decent person: unless someone asks you to, never correct them or act uppity about their use of language unless you legitimately cannot understand what they're saying. If they say "sherbert" instead of "sherbet" or they say something like "irregardless," they might be bending the supposed rules, but you know very well what they're saying. Same with people of different dialects - unless you legitimately cannot understand what someone is saying after a moment of processing, then you really have no need to 'correct' someone.

    I've found that this has massively improved my attitude about language and even has helped me grow as a writer.

    Anyway, looking down on people for having different dialects, even ones you can't easily decipher, is insensitive as hell, and looking down on someone for having a racially-associated dialect is textbook racism.
  7. Indian Summer

    Indian Summer Administrator Owner

    Indeed. And not only can it improve our ability to communicate, it can also improve our ability to think as we usually think in a certain language. However, if changing the language "rules" can improve communication and thinking, then logically, can it also not degrade communication and thinking? Would we be worse off if we adapted certain new language concepts?

    I don't correct anyone's language unless it's someone like my daughter who is still learning the language (and even then I only occasionally correct mistakes). For example, she invented the contraction "amn't", i.e. I "am not", and we didn't correct that because we thought it was novel and logical.

    Bushism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2016
  8. Spang

    Spang Foot Fetisher

    I only correct spelling/grammar if I know the person is an "English only" type.

    I'm probably still in the wrong.
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  9. FortyTwo

    FortyTwo Custom Title

    I consider that totally legitimate. I mean, if they're going to hold everyone else up to their standard, they should be held up to it as well.
  10. FortyTwo

    FortyTwo Custom Title

    Theoretically, yes. Usually, though, we tend only toward what makes communication quicker and easier while still retaining its expressiveness, so it goes uphill without going down. That's how it feels to me, anyway. Sort of a diminishing returns kind of thing. Maybe linguistically I'm wrong.

    This applies so much to internet speak as well. Teens who grew up with the internet (like me!) have such a peculiar way of speaking that goes so far beyond how most adults conceive of it. Capitalization, punctuation, and grammar are toyed with in ways that are, in terms of Standard English, totally and completely wrong, but which make perfect sense in context if you're familiar with it. That's why older adults' portrayals of teenagers in film and television are sometimes hilariously cringey - hardly ever will someone text someone else saying "R u coming over 2 my place l8r??" Adults (when I say 'adult' I mean 'someone who was an adult or older teenager when the internet got big') seem to think it's just a substitution game, where lazy millennials insert shorter versions of words into a sentence and use extra punctuation, but it's really not. It is its own dialect with its own rules. For example, in case this sounds even vaguely interesting to anyone (it's FASCINATING to me), capitalizing a word or a string of words mid-sentence emphasizes them, usually in a sarcastic way, or in a way that's meant to embody bossiness or being overbearing. Like:

    "my dad is so rude he thinks he's the Big Boss of The Whole House and it's pissing me off"

    Also, punctuation is modified to provide varying degrees of seriousness or flippancy. If you say "dude I hate you" to one of your friends, they know you're being facetious and joking with them. If you say "dude, I hate you." then you're actually telling that person you hate them.

    Really interesting stuff, imo.


    Some of those I legitimately could not tell what he meant...
  11. Indian Summer

    Indian Summer Administrator Owner

    I'm not sure that is necessarily how language evolves. Just look at all the smaller languages that are dieing (dying?) out. I don't believe this is necessarily happening because they're not as good / expressive as the bigger languages that are taking over. It seems more likely it's happening because of social / political / economic reasons in the wake of the ongoing globalization.

    Yes, but that doesn't seem very logical! (And not something you'll hear over here from a British person.)
  12. FortyTwo

    FortyTwo Custom Title

    Oh, no, that's definitely true. Language death is a serious thing. Every culture should be able to preserve its language(s).

    Perhaps. Seems exactly as logical or illogical as amn't though. :p
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