Author Topic: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?  (Read 3399 times)

accolay

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Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« on: September 25, 2018, 06:08:19 PM »
I don't even really know where to begin and I'm not very particular about my grammar. Does the author not know the difference between vernacular and established grammar rules? Is it wrong to point out where the English language originated?

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/opinion-proper-english-grammar-racism_us_5ba91ec9e4b069d5f9d549cd

ixtap

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2018, 06:21:38 PM »
The way it is usually done, I agree with the article.

When I taught Spanish, I always emphasized the difference between academic language and home language and the fact that in the work place you were just as likely to find one as the other, depending on the actual job. Basically, few people speak academically and the "May I" example demonstrates that pretty well.

accolay

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2018, 06:30:03 PM »
Basically, few people speak academically and the "May I" example demonstrates that pretty well.

That may be true however, that doesn't mean we shouldn't be teaching the correct rules in school. And I don't think it makes you a white supremacist to do so. I'm also certain we aren't going to start writing academic research with everyday language and slang.

Nearly ever school child, no matter ethnicity, has gotten the same response to the "Can I" question since time immemorial. It's not about race.

englishteacheralex

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2018, 07:09:36 PM »
As an English teacher...whole academic tomes have been written on this subject. Language is powerful. Language is political. Language is beautiful and multi-faceted and constantly evolving.

Some challenges facing standard English at the moment, off the top of my head:

Since nobody really says "whom" anymore, is it even proper grammar to keep saying it? I've stopped bothering with it, although I understand why and when to use it.

Why does English not have a gender-neutral singular pronoun for people? Since it doesn't, "they" is becoming standardized. Do I stop bothering to worry about pronoun-antecedent agreement since the default setting is just to use "they" in a gender-neutral situation, even if the antecedent is singular? Example: "Everybody got an A on (should be his/her because everybody is always a singular antecedent, but what if I teach a co-ed class?) their paper! Yay!"

When the author says "It's just a few short steps from 'Speak Proper English' to 'Make America Great Again'", I must beg to differ. There are many, many steps in between. Personally, my belief is the more you understand English's many iterations, the better an education you have gotten. Standard, collegiate English has its place, but if you can be intentional and grammatically correct in a different dialect, well, that's quite an interesting and appropriate use of language, too. I teach AP Literature and if I were to read a paper written in excellent Hawaiian Pidgin (I teach in Hawaii) I'd be inclined to give it an A, particularly if the student had a fluent command of standard English and wrote in Pidgin in order to make a point. That would be quite a student. Applause for THAT student. I'm a little surprised I haven't seen that happen yet. I'm inclined to make it an assignment, now.

Anyway, interesting discussion, but this is a clickbait article about a topic that has been debated quite a bit since I was in high school in the 90's. It's extremely relevant in Hawaii for a number of fascinating historical reasons but I should go grade some papers instead of writing incoherently here.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2018, 11:51:06 PM by englishteacheralex »

Taran Wanderer

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2018, 10:34:15 PM »
It wasn't incoherent.  It was actually quite informative!

Moonwaves

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2018, 01:40:35 AM »
Nearly ever school child, no matter ethnicity, has gotten the same response to the "Can I" question since time immemorial. It's not about race.
Off to read the article now but can definitely confirm that the "can I/may I" thing is something that my dad was very fond of teaching us.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2018, 06:15:13 AM by Moonwaves »

RetiredAt63

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2018, 05:36:12 AM »
Nearly ever school child, no matter ethnicity, has gotten the same response to the "Can I" question since time immemorial. It's not about race.
Off to read the article now but can definitely confirm that the "can I/may I" thing is something that my dad was very fond of teaching us that particular one.

Given the number of things people and society are able do but shouldn't, the difference between "can" and "may" matters. 

cerat0n1a

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2018, 05:53:36 AM »
Nearly ever school child, no matter ethnicity, has gotten the same response to the "Can I" question since time immemorial. It's not about race.

I wonder whether that is true in other English speaking countries? I would be quite surprised if many children in England had been told to use "may I" rather than "can I" in the last couple of decades.

Moonwaves

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2018, 06:29:45 AM »
Nearly ever school child, no matter ethnicity, has gotten the same response to the "Can I" question since time immemorial. It's not about race.

I wonder whether that is true in other English speaking countries? I would be quite surprised if many children in England had been told to use "may I" rather than "can I" in the last couple of decades.
Maybe it is more of an age thing.
I've read the article now and my experience of learning can/may is certainly very different than the author's. When my dad said it to me, I think I look puzzled or possibly asked what he meant but after he explained it to me, I had more of a "that's interesting" and "my dad knows everything" reaction than anything else.

In general though, I don't entirely agree with the article. She's talking about teaching dialect instead of the generally accepted standard version of a language. This doesn't just happen in English. It's certainly the case in German and I'm sure in plenty of (most?) other languages, as well. With some dialects being so distinct as to almost be entirely different languages I could accept an argument for them being taught separately but I don't think it should be at the expense of the standard language. It's kind of a learn to abide by the rules before you learn when and how to break the rules type of thing perhaps.

I do wonder, though, how much of my attitude stems (consciously or unconsciouly) from the fact that I'm Irish and our historical relationship with the English language has been at times somewhat fraught. It's possible I may have a deepseated attitude of "we dealt with it so everyone else should, too". Mixed in, of course, with that sneaky feeling of pride that so many Irish people took "their" language and made more of a success of it than "they" did (Yeats et al. :) ).

maizeman

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2018, 06:51:21 AM »
It seems like there are two issues that are being mixed together here.

One is whether or not it is reasonable to teach children all be able to speak and write a single consistent version of the english language.

The second is whether that single consistent version of the english language is frozen in time, or changes as the way the majority of american english language speakers alter the grammatical rules they follow and the words they use. 

A good example of the first from the article is using "be" as a substitute of "is" or "are." Most people will understand both, but is/are is clearly more broadly used across speakers of American english, both in the USA and around the world.

A good example of the second from the article is using "they" rather than "he" or "he or she" as a singular pronoun when the gender of the person being referred to is unknown. At this point I think the singular unisex "they" is both broadly understood and broadly used all over the world (I could be wrong in this though).

Personally I'm all in favor of trying to ensure each generation can speak a standardized english, but I'm also fine with defining and updating what that standardized english is based on actual usage, rather than an arbitrary set of rules defined at a single point in time. The fact that the grammar and vocabulary of english are both growing and changing concepts is part of what separates us from languages like french where the Académie française has to meet and discuss whether any give loan word will ever be accepted into the french language.

maizeman

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2018, 10:10:13 AM »
I think kids might be better off learning linguistics in highschool instead of prescriptive English writing. I know I’ve certainly found it more useful than my university level English writing.

I will say I learned a LOT more about how language actually works from the way we were taught a foreign language in high school than I ever did from actual "english" classes.

Mississippi Mudstache

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2018, 10:35:28 AM »
I think kids might be better off learning linguistics in highschool instead of prescriptive English writing. I know I’ve certainly found it more useful than my university level English writing.

I will say I learned a LOT more about how language actually works from the way we were taught a foreign language in high school than I ever did from actual "english" classes.

100%. I learned Portuguese in college and spent 3 months in Brazil. Gave me a completely new perspective on the English language.

BDWW

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2018, 10:41:02 AM »
What utter nonsense. Is it also racist when teaching (white) rednecks and hillbillies not to use aint?

Or as people I know might say

I reckon that right thar is dumber than tits on a bull.

BDWW

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2018, 11:10:53 AM »
If “ain’t” is part of a functional and structured local dialect, then yes, it is just as socially oppressive to teach a kid that the way their culture speaks is wrong.

It remains, just as *useful* for kids raised with Southern US English to learn Standard English, but being made to feel like their cultural dialect is inferior is definitely culturally problematic.

Also...let’s not forget how incredibly and horrifically offensive it is to generalize people as “rednecks” or “hillbillies” in a negative way because of the use of ain’t. I’ve spoken with plenty of highly accomplished professionals who use the words “ain’t” “y’all” and “reckon”, etc.

So yeah, I would say that the same elitist prejudice applies.

You really don't see how asinine this all is? I'll continue this nonsense oppression olympics charade by pointing out that you are the one generalizing people as “rednecks” or “hillbillies” . I didn't generalize by their use of the word aint[sic], I referenced them specifically, and any negative connotation was a product of your bias.


Slee_stack

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #14 on: September 26, 2018, 11:23:35 AM »
How efficient would it be to require every child to understand every other dialect or form of slang while learning in school?

Is that remotely feasible?

Understanding multiple languages is a noble (and cool) thing, but expecting to accommodate dialects and slangs seems absurd.  Where does it end?

Why does this need to be called racist?  If a child were growing up in any other country, would the grammatical expectations there also be considered racist?  How do other countries avoid this racist problem?

« Last Edit: September 26, 2018, 11:26:00 AM by Slee_stack »

Slee_stack

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #15 on: September 26, 2018, 11:58:25 AM »
How efficient would it be to require every child to understand every other dialect or form of slang while learning in school?

Is that remotely feasible?

Understanding multiple languages is a noble (and cool) thing, but expecting to accommodate dialects and slangs seems absurd.  Where does it end?

Why does this need to be called racist?  If a child were growing up in any other country, would their grammatical expectations also be considered racist?  How do other countries avoid this racist problem?

It’s not practical for everyone to understand every dialect or every language. That is nuts.
Literally no one has suggested that.

What is offensive is teaching children that different dialects are wrong or inferior to the Standard English dialect, which is usually how it is taught. The fundamental presupposition that Sandard English is correct and superior just because that dialect of the ruling class got labeled “Standard”.

It’s cool to learn Standard English dialect. It’s useful the same way that people learn English as a second language for the sake of utility. That doesn’t make it more correct, or superior, or good, it’s just common due to being what has been taught for decades.

Looking critically at *why* something is the norm is not the same as saying that we should eliminate the norm and do something ridiculous and cumbersome as a result like teaching every dialect. However, a basic linguistics lecture that explains how languages work and that there are many ways to speak the same language and that the most common dialect isn’t necessarily superior might be worth considering.
Perhaps I'm too simplistic.   I don't necessary care or have ever cared what 'standard' is used for anything...spoken/written language, programming language, software, whatever.

Give me the medium that makes it easier for the population to get things done quicker.

I'll agree that no one should be talked down to about their first or native language.  That's just wrong.

I would hope that most people could view Proper English (or whatever) simply as a communication standard that is used for the good of all.   Whether it was 'white based' at some point in time (or any other color based)  honestly means nothing to me personally.  Maybe some people are offended though.   

Personally, I think Proper English is unnecessarily complex (or at least confusing) as a language (compared to some others).  I don't worry too much about it though because its just a (very) common way to communicate in the US.

I will try to remember to put a linguistic class on my bucket list though.  I don't doubt I might learn something.

diapasoun

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #16 on: September 26, 2018, 12:04:11 PM »
So, I have a PhD in linguistics.

There's two ways to approach language, particular in terms of grammar: prescriptivist (this is what language should be) and descriptivist (this is what language is). A prescriptivist says that "we be hanging out" is bad English; it's not in the accepted standard dialect/register. A descriptivist says that it's perfectly good English, it just belongs to a particular dialect/register (African American Vernacular English in this case). "We be hanging out" is perfectly grammatical in AAVE; it's not grammatical in Standard American English. That's because they aren't the same dialects.

Linguists pretty universally approach language in a descriptivist manner, because we're concerned with language as an object: How does language work? What is the mental object that is language? For the sociolinguists, what is the social object that is language? Language is immensely diverse, and amazing, and we want to know all about. When you study language for long enough, you discover that there is literally nothing that makes one language or dialect better than another. "But German sounds so harsh!" -- that's an aesthetic judgment, and therefore it has all the weight of any other aesthetic judgment (i.e. basically zero). "But such-and-such people have eleventy billion words for X!" -- well, you're probably confusing "word" with "sentence", which is very easy in some languages. There's no one language that has special expressive power, though, and there's hundreds, if not thousands, of papers out there showing just that.

Most of the rest of society approaches language from a prescriptivist position. This is where power gets involved, and as Malkynn points out, the "preferred" dialects are (in the US at least) inevitably white and upper-class, and if you go deep enough, typically coastal (e.g. white upper class California English is becoming the standard TV dialect, for example). That's because these are the dialects spoken by the people in power; everyone wants to speak like the people in power, after all.

Insisting that the only "good" dialects are the dialects of people in power necessarily makes a value judgment on the dialects of people NOT in power. Those dialects, the dialects spoken by the poor/brown/gay/whatever people, those are the BAD dialects. That's where you get charges of racism, classim, and all the other -isms coming in. You're literally telling people that their language/dialect is worse, and you're making that judgment is based on power structures. People don't think of it that way, and it's very rarely expressed overtly that way, but that's what's happening.

There's plenty of value in learning the dialect of power. But acting like the dialect of power is the One True Dialect? Yeah, you're punching down in the power hierarchy.

@BDWW It's not racist to teach white people not to use ain't. It is, however, classist, and in the way you described it, urbanist, to tell them that "ain't" is inferior. "Ain't" is perfectly grammatical in the dialects that have it. You can tell them it's not part of Standard American English and shouldn't be used in that context, but

Also, a gentle reminder that some of the people on these boards are the exact people you just made fun of. I am a white, lower-class person from Appalachia. I find your post deeply unfunny. You used two shitty words ("hillbillies" and "rednecks", which I've never heard anyone outside those communities use in a non-shitty way) and a parody of rural white English as a way to -- what? Make a point by making fun of folks?

 

BDWW

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #17 on: September 26, 2018, 12:15:30 PM »

Also, a gentle reminder that some of the people on these boards are the exact people you just made fun of. I am a white, lower-class person from Appalachia. I find your post deeply unfunny. You used two shitty words ("hillbillies" and "rednecks", which I've never heard anyone outside those communities use in a non-shitty way) and a parody of rural white English as a way to -- what? Make a point by making fun of folks?

Hilarious, and very illustrative of the problem of the aforementioned oppression olympics. Anyone figure out the elephant yet?

MOD EDIT: You are being rude and not adding to the conversation. Please stop.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2018, 11:54:56 AM by arebelspy »

diapasoun

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #18 on: September 26, 2018, 12:50:36 PM »

Also, a gentle reminder that some of the people on these boards are the exact people you just made fun of. I am a white, lower-class person from Appalachia. I find your post deeply unfunny. You used two shitty words ("hillbillies" and "rednecks", which I've never heard anyone outside those communities use in a non-shitty way) and a parody of rural white English as a way to -- what? Make a point by making fun of folks?

Hilarious, and very illustrative of the problem of the aforementioned oppression olympics. Anyone figure out the elephant yet?

What does a word mean?

A word means what a community uses it to mean.

In most all of the US, and definitely on an internet forum talking with total strangers, "redneck" and "hillbilly" are used as offensive terms to denigrate rural white people, especially rural white people from the south and/or Appalachia and rural white people without higher education.

So, yeah, you used two offensive terms. And I'm telling you as someone born and raised in that community that I don't care if you were too. It's still hurtful language, I don't appreciate it, I don't think it's funny, and I said so -- and your response was to tell me that it's hilarious that I find that language hurtful. Maybe it doesn't hurt you, but it hurts others, and you clearly don't care.

Good to see your colors, dude.

Slee_stack

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #19 on: September 26, 2018, 01:36:59 PM »
When a dialect introduces confusion or reduces the chance of the overall population's understanding, it is inappropriate to utilize in that population's setting (ie work, school, etc.).

Being corrected with respect to the 'standard' in that environment should not be taken as an offense.

If a teacher says 'That's wrong', why must one immediately presume the most negative interpretation and view it as an attack on dialect/culture/etc?  Why can't they instead see the correction with respect to the application of the standard?  What wrong was done?

Are people helping to generate their own offense simply by presuming the worst?

I know that personally, it gets extremely tiring trying to walk on eggshells in every facet of life and at every moment.   Isn't part of the burden to improve things also on the offendee?

No really...I'm not being racist when I don't understand something that is said at work in a dialect I can't understand...

I'm asking (ok expecting!) you to use standard English so we can all understand the task at hand and address the problem.  Why is that racist?

Why would a school that is trying to teach the standard NOT correct improper use?   If someone changed the standard to Swahili tomorrow...I would have an incredibly hard time...but I'd probably suck it up and learn it to the best of my ability.  And I would WANT people to tell me when I was wrong if I was mis-applying it.

« Last Edit: September 26, 2018, 01:38:57 PM by Slee_stack »

accolay

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #20 on: September 26, 2018, 02:40:03 PM »
Insisting that the only "good" dialects are the dialects of people in power necessarily makes a value judgment on the dialects of people NOT in power. Those dialects, the dialects spoken by the poor/brown/gay/whatever people, those are the BAD dialects. That's where you get charges of racism, classim, and all the other -isms coming in. You're literally telling people that their language/dialect is worse, and you're making that judgment is based on power structures. People don't think of it that way, and it's very rarely expressed overtly that way, but that's what's happening.

What do we do to attempt to elevate the dialects of those who are not in power? Do we agree that all other dialects are valuable then.... go back to using Latin and Greek? How does a multicultural society decide how to avoid confusion and communicate effectively?

Is it ironic that we're using these grammar rules to communicate effectively?

maizeman

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #21 on: September 26, 2018, 02:55:19 PM »
That doesn't mean Standard English shouldn't continue to be taught, that doesn't mean it should be replaced, but it does mean that a little education in how languages *actually develop and are structured* would go a long way in the public education system.
It literally took only about 40 minutes into my first linguistics class to understand this whole concept and to realize that the way that we are taught "grammar" as one way being right and all others being wrong is pretty closed minded and disrespectful to many regional cultures.

Honestly, it really wouldn't take much to prevent kids who were raised with different dialects not to feel so shitty about the way they speak. They can absolutely be taught Standard, taught the benefits of being fluent in standard in both academia as well as the business world internationally. That's cool. However, we could also teach all kids that various dialects are all also valid and respectable forms of language that do not need to be eliminated and replaced with Standard just because it's worth learning.

Okay, so it took me an embarrassingly long time to get this (I blame it on being so long out of high school and the torture that was english class). So if I understand you correctly, are you saying that teaching Standard English to students across the USA isn't a bad thing, it is that you are saying it would be much better if it was presented/positioned as "here is a particular variant of english, being fluent in this variant is a useful life skill for both historical and pragmatic reasons"?

If so, I'm in complete agreement with you. My previous post was just arguing that the grammatical rules of the Standard English we teach should reflect a descriptivist rather than prescriptivist understanding of what that Standard English dialect is. (Thank you to diapasoun for the correct terminology here!)

Most of the rest of society approaches language from a prescriptivist position. This is where power gets involved, and as Malkynn points out, the "preferred" dialects are (in the US at least) inevitably white and upper-class, and if you go deep enough, typically coastal (e.g. white upper class California English is becoming the standard TV dialect, for example). That's because these are the dialects spoken by the people in power; everyone wants to speak like the people in power, after all.

Huh. Does upper class California English sound more like what you'd hear in southern California or norther California? One of the things that always struck me as weird in that at least right in the San Francisco bay area, the local accent is quite similar if not identical to what you hear in a lot of the midwest, which is where I was taught the old "default" accent for radio and television originated. (I do realize dialects and accents are different concepts, but I'm bad at picking out dialects, a little better at accents, and figure a different accent is a better marker for when people might be speaking a different dialect that guessing entirely at random).

accolay

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #22 on: September 26, 2018, 03:10:07 PM »
Also, um, what makes you think that Latin and Greek didn't have the exact same class-based dialect issues? It's not an English-only phenomenon. Classism and racism occur in judgement of regional dialects all around the world and throughout history. It's a common human behaviour to shit on people for the way they speak.

I'm sure there were class-based issues for those Latin and Greek users in their own time. I'm thinking maybe it would level the playing field.... but then again... those who know Latin and Greek would probably look down on those who use that crappy old formal English grammar.

My point is, what do we do? There are at least 100 languages used around where I live. If teaching everyone in school to speak english grammar is inherently racist, then I guess... we're all basically fucked?  One step closer to "Idiocracy"? Which language should we then choose for formal education?Maybe teach Chinese, Indian or possibly Russian since it seems like they'll be the ones overtaking us anyway. Which would again continue the cycle.

accolay

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #23 on: September 26, 2018, 03:13:02 PM »
Could you post a link to someone speaking "white upper class California English"? I'm from the midwest and I've always felt that professional TV announcers are speaking my accent. So I'd just really like to know what this "white upper class California English" sounds like.

Here you go:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wC2fdRnBEoY&list=PLS_gQd8UB-hJqmD_2fyFYEvC-lvIgsdRr

diapasoun

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #24 on: September 26, 2018, 03:14:29 PM »
Insisting that the only "good" dialects are the dialects of people in power necessarily makes a value judgment on the dialects of people NOT in power. Those dialects, the dialects spoken by the poor/brown/gay/whatever people, those are the BAD dialects. That's where you get charges of racism, classim, and all the other -isms coming in. You're literally telling people that their language/dialect is worse, and you're making that judgment is based on power structures. People don't think of it that way, and it's very rarely expressed overtly that way, but that's what's happening.

What do we do to attempt to elevate the dialects of those who are not in power? Do we agree that all other dialects are valuable then.... go back to using Latin and Greek? How does a multicultural society decide how to avoid confusion and communicate effectively?

Is it ironic that we're using these grammar rules to communicate effectively?

I don't think there's anything wrong with teaching "standard" English. I think standards are really useful, because they do enhance communication. This is especially true in languages with much stronger dialectal differences -- for example, people from some parts of Japan really can't understand people from some other parts, because even though they're speaking Japanese the dialects are so different that they're really different related languages. The school standard gives them access to each other, and that's GOOD. The dialectal differences in American English are really pretty small overall, so a standard doesn't do much for us (it's why we can yell so much about this, because the standard isn't clearly as helpful). That doesn't mean that a standard isn't helpful at all. It's nice to have a dialect that we all have some access to; it can keep us from spiraling even further from each other.

I do think that it's wrong to tell or signal to people that their dialects are inferior, and we need to teach standards without doing that. (I had teachers tell me growing up that people sound dumb when they use "ain't"; that's a pretty strong value signal there.)

maizeman

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #25 on: September 26, 2018, 03:16:16 PM »
accolay, if you go down that road -- which I know you're proposing as a counterfactual rather an a genuine solution -- you end up everyone should learn esperanto (which a small and dedicated group of people have been arguing for a decade without a lot of success).

Malkynn, I don't know that I agree with you that is is a question of systematic racism rather than systematic classism, but if we agree on the solution to the problem, perhaps it is not as important that we agree on the name of the problem we're trying to solve.

diapasoun

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #26 on: September 26, 2018, 03:22:08 PM »
Most of the rest of society approaches language from a prescriptivist position. This is where power gets involved, and as Malkynn points out, the "preferred" dialects are (in the US at least) inevitably white and upper-class, and if you go deep enough, typically coastal (e.g. white upper class California English is becoming the standard TV dialect, for example). That's because these are the dialects spoken by the people in power; everyone wants to speak like the people in power, after all.

Could you post a link to someone speaking "white upper class California English"? I'm from the midwest and I've always felt that professional TV announcers are speaking my accent. So I'd just really like to know what this "white upper class California English" sounds like.

Oh yeah, the midwest accent has been a long-time TV standard! That's slowly changing, but it's not done yet. California Englishes are generally really close to "general" or standard American English, so it's hard to hear the differences. There's some vocab that's distinctive ("hella" is one people often point out), but the biggest non-vocab differences are actually in the vowels.

There's a nice page here on California English; partway down the page is a TV news segment on California English. The news announcers speak California English.

omachi

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #27 on: September 26, 2018, 03:29:27 PM »
As I said above, could a school not also respect other dialects and still teach Standard English without teaching that those other dialects are grammatically wrong? I honestly don't know how to be clearer about this...

The education system currently teaches Standard as "correct" and all other cultural dialects as being incorrect and consisting of bad grammar. The educational system currently very clearly implies that those who speak a culturally different dialect are speaking poorly, which simply isn't the case. They are speaking differently. Each dialect has their own grammar rules, these are not errors, they are systematically different rules, which native speakers understand very well and are just as elegant and structured as Standard English rules.
I feel like you're deliberately disposing of context here. When your context is standard English, anything outside of that is sub-standard. That is to precisely say it is grammatically wrong in the context of standard English. That isn't to say it is grammatically wrong in the context of the dialect, but that isn't the context in which the teaching is happening.

There is nothing wrong with taking offense to a normal part of your culture being represented as inferior, incorrect, ignorant, and uneducated, which is exactly how people raised with different dialects are made to feel, especially AAE speakers. I've personally seen kids who were raised speaking rarer French dialects in Quebec full on humiliated in class by their teachers for "butchering French". It's unnecessary, and unquestionably offensive to their culture given the history behind it.
This seems particularly funny to me, given that l'Académie française probably has something to say about those in Quebec "butchering French". That aside, it seems it should be understood shorthand for "butchering [the standard] French [that is being taught]". And if it's the case that the teacher is intentionally offending by stating the speakers of a dialect are somehow inferior rather than simply speaking incorrectly in the context of the standard, then yes, of course, the teacher is in the wrong.

accolay

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #28 on: September 26, 2018, 03:34:14 PM »
accolay, if you go down that road -- which I know you're proposing as a counterfactual rather an a genuine solution -- you end up everyone should learn esperanto (which a small and dedicated group of people have been arguing for a decade without a lot of success)

Well, it is a little facetious. But I do think the Chinese will probably end up taking us over. Their English grammar is better than ours anyway. Oh, I think it's best to embrace being concured. Instead of me sulking about the future demise of the English language while being dominated by the Chinese speaking powers that be, I'll just learn fluent Mandarin.

omachi

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #29 on: September 26, 2018, 03:39:25 PM »
Most of the rest of society approaches language from a prescriptivist position. This is where power gets involved, and as Malkynn points out, the "preferred" dialects are (in the US at least) inevitably white and upper-class, and if you go deep enough, typically coastal (e.g. white upper class California English is becoming the standard TV dialect, for example). That's because these are the dialects spoken by the people in power; everyone wants to speak like the people in power, after all.

Could you post a link to someone speaking "white upper class California English"? I'm from the midwest and I've always felt that professional TV announcers are speaking my accent. So I'd just really like to know what this "white upper class California English" sounds like.

Oh yeah, the midwest accent has been a long-time TV standard! That's slowly changing, but it's not done yet. California Englishes are generally really close to "general" or standard American English, so it's hard to hear the differences. There's some vocab that's distinctive ("hella" is one people often point out), but the biggest non-vocab differences are actually in the vowels.

There's a nice page here on California English; partway down the page is a TV news segment on California English. The news announcers speak California English.
And it was previously Mid-Atlantic English, that seemingly odd, almost British English that you may associate with old-timey films and news reports. So it wouldn't be that surprising if things switched again.

maizeman

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #30 on: September 26, 2018, 03:52:54 PM »
accolay, if you go down that road -- which I know you're proposing as a counterfactual rather an a genuine solution -- you end up everyone should learn esperanto (which a small and dedicated group of people have been arguing for a decade without a lot of success)

Well, it is a little facetious. But I do think the Chinese will probably end up taking us over. Their English grammar is better than ours anyway. Oh, I think it's best to embrace being concured. Instead of me sulking about the future demise of the English language while being dominated by the Chinese speaking powers that be, I'll just learn fluent Mandarin.

Good luck to you! I've been trying to learn mandarin off and on for years (and before that my parents were trying to get me to learn it). The nice thing is that most chinese speakers I know realize just how hard a language to learn it is, so, for now at least, if you can stumble through one or two broken sentences they'll be thrilled.*

So anyway, I'm really hoping that at this point enough people in enough countries have learned enough english that the usefulness of the language as a default for communicating around the world significantly outlasts the end of pax americana.

And a little less off topic, I don't think anyone is debating the importance of being able to speak the dominant language/dialect, are they?

*I'm not exaggerating for effect. I once received a standing ovation for "Hello my name is [maizeman], thank you for inviting me to Shandong."

maizeman

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #31 on: September 26, 2018, 04:32:46 PM »
accolay, if you go down that road -- which I know you're proposing as a counterfactual rather an a genuine solution -- you end up everyone should learn esperanto (which a small and dedicated group of people have been arguing for a decade without a lot of success).

Malkynn, I don't know that I agree with you that is is a question of systematic racism rather than systematic classism, but if we agree on the solution to the problem, perhaps it is not as important that we agree on the name of the problem we're trying to solve.

I would say that there is absolutely an element of systemic racism since African American English is not limited to a certain socioeconomic class of African American, and yet it rather systemically fails to be respected as a dialect and many African Americans feel a lot of pressure to “sound whiter”.

Besides, a whole fuck ton of classist shit is also super racist.
Would you feel more comfortable calling it systematically culturalist?

Yup, I'm comfortable with systematic culturalism.

Calling it systematic racism to me would seem to exclude the strong biases you also see against people who speak with appalachian or white-southern accents and/or dialects, while incorrectly including a lot of highly educated African immigrants (particularly in the 1980s and 1990s less so today just because immigration from african countries has declined so much) whose natural english dialect is standard english either as a second language for first generation immigrants or as a mother tongue for second or third generation immigrants.

omachi

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #32 on: September 26, 2018, 05:27:54 PM »
What I do see is a generalized societal lack of awareness that other dialects are just as legitimate and that the ways they are different from Standard English are not errors or grammatical mistakes, but are instead a different grammar with different rules.

When someone writes an article about how the way grammar was taught to then made them feel judged for their normal cultural language pattern, and made to feel as though their native tongue is made up of mistakes and errors as opposed to being legitimately different, then I see a problem within the context.

I feel like a broken record, but honestly, what is so wrong with teaching everyone that multiple forms of English exist and that just because one is taught in school doesn’t mean that the other forms should be seen as just ignorant mistakes being made by people who don’t know better.

Why can’t a teacher say “AIN’T is common in some forms of American English, but in Standard it’s said as ISN’T” instead of just telling kids that things like “ain’t” and “we be going” are wrong and shouldn’t be said.
I've no resistance to teaching everybody that multiple forms of English exist, though it seems rather obvious. I somehow doubt that people looking to latch onto whatever is different as "proof" that the different is inferior are going to sit up and take note. That said, there is certainly possible good in stating it if it corrects misunderstandings, as most people don't seem to care about linguistics in general, whether that's with respect to the standard form or the dialect they were raised speaking.

Personally, I don't care if people want to speak in a mess of inconsistencies that could fit only the loosest of grammars; great for them if they have a cohort to whom they're intelligible. I do take umbrage with people insisting I should accommodate such things when they would interact with me, rather than having those seeking to be understood use the standard, as that's the whole point of teaching a standard in the first place. I mean, I'll generally do my best, but I've been in situations where it was simply hopeless.

BookLoverL

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #33 on: September 27, 2018, 01:39:35 AM »
Accents are all equally valid, from my perspective, and anyone who thinks that somebody is speaking incorrectly just because they're not using the current prestige dialect is wrong, and kind of an asshole.

However, it is not inherently racist or classist to teach people the current prestige dialect, with an attitude of "if you want to do academics/write letters to people in positions of power/etc., writing it this way will go down better".

I personally tend to write in a grammatically correct way according to standard British English, complete with semi-colons and everything, especially if I'm writing an essay or something, but in a more informal setting I will absolutely switch to what I perceive as a better version of writing for that scenario (e.g., in an instant messaging program like Discord, it would be kind of silly to insist on capitalising everything and always using punctuation), and in spoken language, I normally just speak in my usual middle-class Lancashire accent, which does a variety of things considered "ungrammatical" by received-pronunciation puritans. I also have several relatives who speak with a Black Country accent (similar to, but NOT the same as, the Birmingham or "Brummie" accent), which, by the standards of prescriptivist language snobs is considered to be one that makes people sound "stupid". All of them are perfectly intelligent, and, as far as I am concerned, do not sound stupid at all.

I once got into a small argument with someone in my university halls about the "correct" pronunciation of scone. Personally, I pronounce it to rhyme with "on", but I think that BOTH rhyming with "on" and rhyming with "throne" are correct, because large numbers of people do both those things, but she was insisting that only rhyming with "throne" was correct...

cerat0n1a

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #34 on: September 27, 2018, 08:16:25 AM »
I normally just speak in my usual middle-class Lancashire accent, which does a variety of things considered "ungrammatical" by received-pronunciation puritans.

Me too, which means I get corrected by my own kids on how to pronounce "graaass." I grew up in a time and place where friends and family could be addressed with thee and thou, which passed out of Standard English a couple of centuries ago.

I'm reminded of George Bernard Shaw's comment: "It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate or despise him."  Seems like we can substitute American in there and it works just as well :-)

The comments about Mandarin are funny, because the idea that Chinese is a single language is a political fiction. Cantonese or Hakka or numerous other "dialects" are mutually unintelligble with a Beijing Mandarin speaker. "Chinese" has vastly more diversity than the variants of US, British, Indian English. I think English has actually become much more homogenised than it was in the past, due to tv, movies, internet etc.


maizeman

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #35 on: September 27, 2018, 08:53:51 AM »
The comments about Mandarin are funny, because the idea that Chinese is a single language is a political fiction. Cantonese or Hakka or numerous other "dialects" are mutually unintelligble with a Beijing Mandarin speaker. "Chinese" has vastly more diversity than the variants of US, British, Indian English. I think English has actually become much more homogenised than it was in the past, due to tv, movies, internet etc.

Yup. The language situations in India and China are a lot more similar that you'd guess from the number of officially spoken languages. I remember being in Hainan and asking what language people were speaking (because it didn't sound anything like "chinese" to me) and being told "oh yes, they have a strange sounding dialect down here." Many married Chinese couples speak the standardized version of chinese taught in schools, and mutually unintelligible versions of supposedly the same language to each set of parents.* In India the situation is similar, except they call these languages rather than dialects.

China is trying to deal with the situation by doing everything they can to encourage people to only speak and use the standardized mandarin chinese language, which may be a multigenerational undertaking.** India deals with the situation by effectively requiring fluency in at least three distinct languages (regional/state language, Hindi, and English) for many high-status/high-education-requirement jobs.

As you pointed out, in the USA we've really only had a couple of centuries to develop distinct dialects and accents, and about half of that time has coincided with the advent of commercial radio and television which tends to push people back towards a standardized language rather than diverging into regional dialects and then languages. So the stakes are much lower for us than in places like India or China. But ultimately the question of which of those two approaches to take may still be the same.

*I've been told all/most of the dialects or languages in China are mutually intelligible when written. If true, that may be a perk of a written language where each symbol represents an idea rather than a sound.

**This isn't a project unique to China. For example the french language as we know it today is descended from the language spoken right around Paris, and the fact that it is spoken throughout France today is the result of a multi-century effort by the french government starting back in the 1600s.

gaja

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #36 on: September 27, 2018, 11:01:41 AM »
How efficient would it be to require every child to understand every other dialect or form of slang while learning in school?

Is that remotely feasible?


Understanding multiple languages is a noble (and cool) thing, but expecting to accommodate dialects and slangs seems absurd.  Where does it end?

Why does this need to be called racist?  If a child were growing up in any other country, would the grammatical expectations there also be considered racist?  How do other countries avoid this racist problem?

In Norway we learn to recognize and understand the different Norwegian dialects in school, in addition to Danish and Swedish. Dialects are also part of the curriculum for the other languages we learn, such as English, German, Spanish, etc. There are dialects in Norway that are so strange that I struggle to understand them, but admitting that to the person speaking that dialect will reflect badly on me, not them. My dialect can be difficult for some people, especially Swedes and Danes, and I will tone it down and speak slower if I see them struggling. You are expected to keep your dialect when you move, and if someone can hear that you are trying to speak "more poshly", it is not an admired trait. Immigrants that choose to adopt a rural dialect will find integration becomes easier. Slang is more difficult, since teenagers often want a secret language. But it is mostly seen as positive. Also, "spot the dialect" is a common icebreaker when you meet new people, and a common topic on tv and radio shows. Like these kids filming themselves playing a online game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tA-9veCfs9Y

We do not have a standardized spoken language, and you can choose between two different types of written Norwegian (and a large variety of grammar and vocabulary within the two written languages). We learn to read and write both varieties in school, but you choose one to be your primary written language. I can't write 100 % like I speak, there are some grammatical rules in the written languages that are stricter than the spoken, but I can get pretty close. And shifting between different dialects, sociolects and written varieties can make it easier to adapt the message to different target groups.

The strong positive emphasis on dialects comes from being forced to use Danish (and to some degree Swedish) as an official language. Freedom of language was an important part of the fight for independence. Language is power, and can easily be used to suppress certain groups. I would not necesserally connect it to race, but rather socioeconomic background. This TEDtalk from a Scottish auditory neuroscientist is very interesting in this regard: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRnQ8lYcvFU

PDXTabs

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #37 on: September 27, 2018, 01:57:34 PM »
What utter nonsense. Is it also racist when teaching (white) rednecks and hillbillies not to use aint?

No, that's ethnocentric, or possibly classist. I believe the that current word (because language evolves) for this is intersectionality. That is, having a bunch of white guys define correct language usage in the USA 200 years ago, and how it has evolved, is an exercise in colonialism, classism, nationalism, and ethnocentrism which all have a tinge of racism. That's why I was never allowed to hand in English assignments with English spelling in them. Because the American colonialist language cabal wouldn't let me.

With that said, I'm not sure that the answer is to not teach it, but to deny the roots is to ignore the truth of the matter. With that said, every linguist ever will tell you that languages evolve, and that the most common usage is definitionally correct. Of course, to get to the point where your usage is most common, first only, like, a handful of people were using it. Any argument to the contrary is jankey.


Indexer

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #38 on: September 27, 2018, 09:36:02 PM »
Why is this so complicated?

Teach standard English. People in their respective areas might still use their own regional versions of certain words. They've been learning "English" but still speaking the way they want for a hundred+ years.

PS. I live in the South, and went to school in an area where redneck wasn't an insult. People learned English. They knew not to write "ain't" in a paper, and very few people actually use that word BTW. Say "ain't" in the south and a redneck will probably joke with you that "ain't ain't a word." No one thought it was classist that you couldn't use ain't in an English paper.

Considering how connected we all are now I would say it's pretty important that we have one set standard, at least for writing. A national firm with employees and clients all over the country probably doesn't want it's employees in the south putting "Y'all" in emails.

PDXTabs

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #39 on: September 28, 2018, 08:56:23 AM »
Teach standard English... A national firm with employees and clients all over the country probably doesn't want it's employees in the south putting "Y'all" in emails.

But who defines what proper English is? Y'all is the perfect example. Y'all is what is called the second person plural form by linguists. German has a second person plural form, French has a second person plural form, Portuguese has a second person plural form, Spanish has two second person plural forms (at least in Spain and Argentina), and English used to have a second person plural form (Ye). Are you telling me that we should never bring it back because a bunch of stuffy northern academics say so? Because that is a radical departure from how languages have evolved over recorded history.

EDITed to add - in many parts of the world mutual ineligibility is the goal. Language is here, after all, for us to communicate. With the Y'all (or whom) example, is anyone going to get confused?
« Last Edit: September 28, 2018, 09:14:04 AM by PDXTabs »

Slee_stack

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #40 on: September 28, 2018, 11:00:14 AM »
Maybe Y'all might not be confusing, but there are plenty of terms that are.

Consider English and American English words Boot, Bonnet, Fag, Pissed, etc.. 

Hell yeah, many people would be seriously confused if both 'dialect' definitions were accepted in standard communication.  The best case scenario is that people would have to slow down to consider even more context to determine the correct definition intended.  Standard English is already challenging enough with the same sounding words having different meanings!

The ones that define the standard are probably a majority.  By sheer numbers, its easy to see why that would (likely) be the most efficient overall choice for everyone.  Sure, minority dialect speakers will have it harder.  Should the 90% be told to adopt something that the 10% use however?  If so, why is that more effective?

I fully believe the standard does and will continue to evolve and I really don't believe its a racist thing...its a convenience thing.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2018, 11:03:38 AM by Slee_stack »

Paul der Krake

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #41 on: September 28, 2018, 11:19:38 AM »
You can sound as uneducated as you wish, write as poorly as you wish, just don't be surprised when people think you are uneducated and don't know how to write.


dougules

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #42 on: September 28, 2018, 04:15:59 PM »
I think a lot of it boils down to how we think about teaching the General American dialect.  I think a lot of the vitriol for various groups who speak disparaged dialects would be ameliorated by teaching General American as you would a foreign language such as French or Japanese.  It's not that French is right and English is wrong, they're just different.  Dialects are essentially completely separate languages that just aren't different enough to be viewed as such (yet).  Dutch and English were the same language a few centuries ago.  Teach General American as something separate from the variety of English kids use at home, then teach kids when it's appropriate to use each. 

For context, I'm a southerner and General American is not my native language.  White southerners get a certain amount of the same kind of dismissal from linguistically ignorant folks for not talking "right."  By the way, please don't tell me I have "an accent," because unless you've taken a vow of silence you have one, too. 

Johnez

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #43 on: September 28, 2018, 09:25:40 PM »
This is hilarious. Should we also be encouraging face tats, "grills" and baggy pants with boxers hanging out for kids applying to jobs? The formal English that's taught can be understood nationwide. I don't know what "fleek" is. Every 'hood, barrio, and ghetto has its own way of speaking. When I was a kid, we used slang not as a social justice concept, but because it was cool. The fact that words weren't accepted by authority made them more attractive. I'm pretty sure to teach em all would be some professor's idea of a good time but seems like a waste to me. The more likely reason the author may have been corrected is that her teacher was trying to set her up for success. Slang wasn't ever accepted, white, black, or green.

dougules

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #44 on: September 30, 2018, 04:00:24 PM »
This is hilarious. Should we also be encouraging face tats, "grills" and baggy pants with boxers hanging out for kids applying to jobs? The formal English that's taught can be understood nationwide. I don't know what "fleek" is. Every 'hood, barrio, and ghetto has its own way of speaking. When I was a kid, we used slang not as a social justice concept, but because it was cool. The fact that words weren't accepted by authority made them more attractive. I'm pretty sure to teach em all would be some professor's idea of a good time but seems like a waste to me. The more likely reason the author may have been corrected is that her teacher was trying to set her up for success. Slang wasn't ever accepted, white, black, or green.

Slang and fads are different from dialect and culture.  You're getting the two mixed up. 

Johnez

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #45 on: September 30, 2018, 04:55:43 PM »
This is hilarious. Should we also be encouraging face tats, "grills" and baggy pants with boxers hanging out for kids applying to jobs? The formal English that's taught can be understood nationwide. I don't know what "fleek" is. Every 'hood, barrio, and ghetto has its own way of speaking. When I was a kid, we used slang not as a social justice concept, but because it was cool. The fact that words weren't accepted by authority made them more attractive. I'm pretty sure to teach em all would be some professor's idea of a good time but seems like a waste to me. The more likely reason the author may have been corrected is that her teacher was trying to set her up for success. Slang wasn't ever accepted, white, black, or green.

Slang and fads are different from dialect and culture.  You're getting the two mixed up.

Well, the author brings up slang in her argument that minorities are being forced to speak "white." I'd argue the "dialects" rely pretty heavily on slang terms that survived the fad stage.

diapasoun

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #46 on: September 30, 2018, 10:56:40 PM »
Dialects really are *languages* - they're not a collection of words, but an entire linguistic system with its own rules for pronunciation, word order, intonation, and so on. Dialects just happen to be mutually intelligible with other languages, which is why we call them dialects. They are much, much more than slang.

(As a linguist, dialects are fascinating entirely because they have these slightly different grammatical rules - we can learn a ton about how Language as a mental system works by studying that variation.)

RetiredAt63

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #47 on: October 01, 2018, 09:41:44 AM »

For context, I'm a southerner and General American is not my native language.  White southerners get a certain amount of the same kind of dismissal from linguistically ignorant folks for not talking "right."  By the way, please don't tell me I have "an accent," because unless you've taken a vow of silence you have one, too.

I grew up speaking a dialect (Quebec English, a dialect more because of vocabulary and some grammar oddities (based on French) than accent)) and have it on good authority that I have an exotic Canadian accent (said by many Aussies and Kiwis when I visited their countries).  Canadians tend to have a general accent (or used to) because so many learned how English "should" sound from CBC radio, before TV.  I can't help but wonder how much "Hollywood English" is Canadian English, given how many of our actors have ended up there.

dougules

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #48 on: October 01, 2018, 11:57:46 AM »
This is hilarious. Should we also be encouraging face tats, "grills" and baggy pants with boxers hanging out for kids applying to jobs? The formal English that's taught can be understood nationwide. I don't know what "fleek" is. Every 'hood, barrio, and ghetto has its own way of speaking. When I was a kid, we used slang not as a social justice concept, but because it was cool. The fact that words weren't accepted by authority made them more attractive. I'm pretty sure to teach em all would be some professor's idea of a good time but seems like a waste to me. The more likely reason the author may have been corrected is that her teacher was trying to set her up for success. Slang wasn't ever accepted, white, black, or green.

Slang and fads are different from dialect and culture.  You're getting the two mixed up.

Well, the author brings up slang in her argument that minorities are being forced to speak "white." I'd argue the "dialects" rely pretty heavily on slang terms that survived the fad stage.

That actually happens in national languages, too.  The word for "head" in French and Italian came from the Latin word for "jar" because in Vulgar Latin slang they started using that word instead of the actual word. 

My point is that instead of disparaging kids for how they talk or dress, just teach them from the POV that American business is a different culture with its own language and dress. 
« Last Edit: October 01, 2018, 12:00:05 PM by dougules »

gaja

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Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #49 on: October 01, 2018, 03:08:49 PM »
Dialects really are *languages* - they're not a collection of words, but an entire linguistic system with its own rules for pronunciation, word order, intonation, and so on. Dialects just happen to be mutually intelligible with other languages, which is why we call them dialects. They are much, much more than slang.

(As a linguist, dialects are fascinating entirely because they have these slightly different grammatical rules - we can learn a ton about how Language as a mental system works by studying that variation.)

Some languages are mutually intelligible, some dialects within the same language are not. The old saying very often holds true: "a language is a dialect with an army."

Very interesting to read this discussion, and see how differently people view languages. Most (almost all) here talk about language as a tool, where the goal is to make communication easier. But languages (and dialects) are so much more; if you remove the language from a people, they lose important parts of their culture and history. There is a reason why killing languages is so difficult. Look at Norn, the Shetland language that disappeared in 1850. Try talking to Shetlanders about wool, fishing, or historical events - and a lot of the old words and grammar will pop up even now, 170 years later. Some places, they made a harder effort, and almost managed to wipe out all parts of the culture, like with the sea Sami culture in Northern Norway. But to get those results, you had to remove the kids from home and isolate them in boarding schools, physically punish them if they spoke their native language, give them new names, and almost brainwash them into hating their culture. If you then got them to hide their background from their children and grandchildren, you were close to "victory".

Very few children have problems code switching, or switching between languages. The norm in most of the world is to grow up bi-lingual (or multi-lingual). And even in mono-lingual cultures, kids learn to adapt their language based on who they are speaking to. But learning to switch between codes, dialects, or languages in different situations, is very different from getting your first language mocked or banned.