Author Topic: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?  (Read 2979 times)

PDXTabs

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 648
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Vancouver, WA, USA
Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #50 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

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 812
Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #51 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

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4303
  • Age: 10
  • Location: USA
Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #52 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

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1250
  • Location: AL
Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #53 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

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 876
  • Location: Southern California
Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #54 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

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1250
  • Location: AL
Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #55 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

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 876
  • Location: Southern California
Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #56 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

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1712
  • Location: California
Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #57 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

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 9202
  • Location: Eastern Ontario, Canada
Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #58 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

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1250
  • Location: AL
Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #59 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

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1060
Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #60 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.

maizeman

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2811
Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #61 on: October 01, 2018, 04:35:11 PM »
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".

Alternatively if you dilute people in a country of non-speakers it happens naturally without any force. Takes about three generations with (non-spanish*) immigrants to the USA.
-First generation speaks the new language as a second language and their original language as primary.
-Second generation grows up bilingual and speaks their "native" language to their parents and the new language to everyone else.
-Generation three is essentially monolingual.

*The spanish language community is large enough that speaking spanish continues to provide substantial utility aside from talking to your parents/grandparents.

The Fat Baby G. Malenkov

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 35
Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #62 on: October 05, 2018, 08:12:38 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.
Remember when the North Koreans called Trump a dotard (because they're translating with dictionaries that were published 80 years ago), and then the learned brainy brains on national public radio pronounced it as if it rhymed with "retard" to make it sound like the Koreans used a slur? I remember that

accolay

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 809
Re: Yikes. Grammar is... Racist?
« Reply #63 on: October 07, 2018, 12:09:42 PM »
Remember when the North Koreans called Trump a dotard (because they're translating with dictionaries that were published 80 years ago), and then the learned brainy brains on national public radio pronounced it as if it rhymed with "retard" to make it sound like the Koreans used a slur? I remember that

I'm not sure how your post applies to the topic at hand. FYI though, dotard is not a compliment. That's true with current or 80 year old dictionaries.

Please start your own topic on how many Americans want to wear their ignorance as a badge of honor instead of being like those nerd elitist "brainy brains."