Who gets to decide what "good English" is?
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28-09-2012, 02:44 PM
RE: Who gets to decide what "good English" is?
I don't even a word then with it or if it when it did then.
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28-09-2012, 02:54 PM
RE: Who gets to decide what "good English" is?
(28-09-2012 11:47 AM)DLJ Wrote:  Who gets to decide what "good English" is?

I fuckin' do!

Smartass

Live with it.
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28-09-2012, 04:10 PM
RE: Who gets to decide what "good English" is?
(28-09-2012 02:40 PM)LadyJane Wrote:  In the end, I understand why proper structure is important- or at least I think I do. Language is necessary to communicate as specifically as possible. Slang is not specific enough and more relaxed, but it also has its own meaning and provides a different perspective. So, I believe they are both important and valuable. If I want to relate to the kids I work with at the youth centre, I need to know what certain words or structure means and I need to be able to reflect back, or I will be left in the dust. And those kids need to learn how to speak a more formal version of what they are saying to grow and continue in the 'bigger' world. It seems this will all have to co-exist.

I like nach_in bringing that video to the thread, because I worry about that here on TTA. I worry some of us, me specifically, might come off as uppity, stuffy or annoying to some posters who either don't or choose not to have proper English. I choose it, sometimes, because it helps me communicate in a more precise manner. It is not to be elite, annoying or a snob- which I worry it is how I may be perceived. I don't want that impression of me because I feel I am the furthest thing from that. However, I shouldn't have to change how I speak to be accepted, cool or understood- that's not fair either. The video posted is great, because it's a reminder in how language is also an art. AND I friggin' LOVE art! Heart Big Grin

I seriously doubt that anyone who knows you from TTA would perceive you as uppity, stuffy, or annoying, LJ. Wink

It goes without saying that language is a very personal thing. The way you speak and write says a lot about who you are, what you identify with, how you see yourself, and how you want to be seen. So in that sense, language is a form of self-expression. But that needs to be balanced with the idea that language is not one-size-fits-all. To be competent in a language, you need to know a range of different ways of speaking and writing that are appropriate in different situations.

As you say, the way you speak has an effect on whether you're accepted by a particular group. Language often reflects group identity. If you want to be perceived as a bona fide group member--whether the group is based on ethnicity, nationality, age, religion, sexuality, or a million different subcultures--you've got to talk the talk.

Think of the specialized vocabulary that goes along with Internet forums like this one: post, thread, rep, bump a thread, sticky, get banned, bot, sock puppet . . . All of those seem perfectly natural to young people who have grown up with Internet forums, but to folks of a certain age, they have to be learned explicitly. If you don't use the right lingo, you're perceived as clueless.

The problem with the kids at your youth center, I bet, is not that they're speaking incorrectly in the context of communicating with their peers, but rather that they haven't developed other ways of communicating for situations in which standard English is required. That's going to hold them back. But the goal should never be to try to expunge their natural way of talking or tell them they aren't speaking correctly. They are speaking correctly for the situation! It may not be standard English, but that's OK. Linguists have studied non-standard speech in depth and have invariably found it no less internally consistent and "logical" than any other form of speech. The kids should instead be encouraged to expand their linguistic repertoire and learn a different way of communicating in addition to their own--i.e. standard English--for use when the situation requires it.

But in the end it does come down to a balancing act--what feels right to you in a way that expresses who you are, balanced with what's considered customary and appropriate in a given situation.

Religious disputes are like arguments in a madhouse over which inmate really is Napoleon.
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28-09-2012, 04:46 PM
RE: Who gets to decide what "good English" is?
For correspondence dealing with work or a personal business situation, I do try to use something at least close to proper English.

When writing personal letters or emails I write more conversationally. I often do on this forum, unless it's a really serious post then I may follow more strict guidelines.

I have always enjoyed letters (shame we don't write them as often as we used to) that read like the person speaks.

It seems that the situation guides the way I write.

I'm not anti-social. I'm pro-solitude. Sleepy
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28-09-2012, 04:55 PM
RE: Who gets to decide what "good English" is?
I dunno what y'all be talkin bout?

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect.”

-Mark Twain
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28-09-2012, 05:06 PM
RE: Who gets to decide what "good English" is?
(28-09-2012 11:40 AM)cufflink Wrote:  Is a preposition something you should never end a sentence with?

Is it OK to say "just between you and I"?

Is it allowable to boldly split an infinitive?

And what about starting a sentence with "and" or "but"?

What if it turns out that some of the rules we learned in high school aren't valid after all? What if some cherished rules are just myths, and our teachers were wrong? Who gets to decide on these things anyway?

I let my ear decide when I'm writing. I'm willing to break any grammatical "rule" if it sounds right to my ear in the particular context. I trust my ear. But it's important to me to know when I am breaking a "rule". If I don't know when I'm breaking a "rule" then my ear is insufficiently trained and cannot be trusted. Wink

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
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28-09-2012, 05:10 PM (This post was last modified: 29-09-2012 04:44 PM by cufflink.)
RE: Who gets to decide what "good English" is?
@Aseptic Skeptic:

Thanks for the detailed and spirited comments. I'm with you on certain things and disagree strenuously on others.

Our common ground seems to be that (1) what's right or wrong is determined by majority rule, although the deciding group is not simply the majority of English speakers, and (2) it's crucial to keep in mind the audience to whom you're speaking or writing.

It would be a lot simpler if we spoke French or Hebrew--we'd have the Académie Française in Paris or the Academy of the Hebrew Language in Israel to tell us the correct choices. Since there's nothing comparable in the English-speaking world, we can only go on the basis of what respected writers and speakers actually do. The rules are abstracted from the practice. Is it OK to end a sentence with a preposition? There's no Great Grammar Book in the Sky to answer that question. Likewise, we can't always trust what teachers tell us, because most of the time they're just repeating what their teachers have told them, etc.--and when you trace the thread back centuries, you sometimes find there was never any valid basis for the decision in the first place!

That is indeed the case with the infamous preposition rule. I don't know the history here (I'm sure it's been written about extensively), but I'll bet it has to do with the fact that among the "familiar" languages, English is unique in that it allows you to "strand" prepositions at the ends of sentences. So we can say:

(1) With whom are you speaking?

or

(2) Who(m) are you speaking with?

But Spanish only has the equivalent of (1):

(3) ¿Con quién estás hablando?

You can't ever say:

(4) *¿Quién estás hablando con?

So the early grammarians probably thought, "If it's wrong in Spanish and French and Italian and Latin, it must be wrong in English too."

What they didn't do is go out and look at what good writers are speakers were actually doing! If they had, they would have discovered that such writers have always allowed sentence-final prepositions, and of course still do. In the "To be or not to be" soliloquy, Hamlet says:

The undiscovered Country, from whose bourn
No Traveller returns, Puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of.

Do we want to tell Will he was wrong, and it should have been, ". . . fly to others of which we know not"? Smile

This is clearly a case where the "rule" is a genuine myth, and our teachers were wrong. That's acknowledged by both sides of the debate linked to in the OP. It's also characterized as a myth in Joseph Williams's Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace, a famous textbook now in its 10th edition used in many graduate-level courses.

That said, I agree with you that sometimes it's wise not to stir up a hornet's nest if you don't have to. That's where "Audience Analysis" comes in. If, say, you're writing to someone you need to please or impress, and you're aware that that person is a Grammar Nazi who accepts all of the old-fashioned received wisdom on right and wrong in language, then it's prudent not to do anything that will make him or her go "Tsk tsk." But there's no reason to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition unless you know it's something up with which your reader will not put. Big Grin

ETA: Changed the Spanish examples for clarity. Thanks, nach_in.

Religious disputes are like arguments in a madhouse over which inmate really is Napoleon.
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28-09-2012, 06:33 PM
RE: Who gets to decide what "good English" is?
What we consider "good english" is in constant state of change, except with your teacher and/ or professor. Actually, technological communication has accelerated the rate of change. I've spent several years in the school system, and I can tell you that there are many children refusing to follow traditional rules of english and that alone is forcing changes.
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28-09-2012, 06:34 PM
RE: Who gets to decide what "good English" is?
What we consider "good english" is in constant state of change, except with your teacher and/ or professor. Actually, technological communication has accelerated the rate of change. I've spent several years in the school system, and I can tell you that there are many children refusing to follow traditional rules of english and that alone is forcing rapid changes.

I tried to delete, all I could was edit? sorry
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28-09-2012, 07:28 PM
RE: Who gets to decide what "good English" is?
depat, please!

No comma before "and".

Just kidding... I don't care about a few extra commas scattered hither and thither.

I would take issue with the word "forcing". The children's refusal is not forcing the changes... the environment is. As with Evolution: the environment (prevailing conditions / context of languages) changes therefore some forms of communication survive and some die.

And (knowingly used at the start of a sentence) as with Evolution, it's all about "fit for purpose" and "fit for use"... a prime example is our forum member Sinner's Prayer's use of language and grammar which is almost unintelligible and "Fails".

In my world of Service Management "fit for purpose" (utility) and "fit for use" (warranty)... are the two key components of Service Value; if these objectives are met, the service creates value for a customer but if one or other fails then the service will not provide value, won't generate demand and will be phased out.

So the rule (in the game of life) seems to be... assimilate or conquer / evolve or die.

Language and grammar come under the same, be it informal, rules.

The same can be said about species, businesses, products and services and interestingly too, religions.

Cuffs, your comment about having a definitive rule book (and an authority as per Spanish and Hebrew) has got me thinking...

Dictionaries and grammar books are continually being updated but the religious books got stuck in the past. However, the majority of users seen them as guidebooks (framework) not law books (standards).

In this I read hope for humanity.

The extremists (grammar fundies) will never go away but they are small minority compared to the masses who adopt and adapt.

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