Who gets to decide what "good English" is?
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03-10-2012, 03:39 PM
RE: Who gets to decide what "good English" is?
(03-10-2012 03:34 PM)Cardinal Smurf Wrote:  Examples of misuse which I find terribly irksome:
Disassociate
Irregardless

And may I just say its even more irksome to find that my iPhone doesn't consider these words to be spelled incorrectly?

That's just wrong.

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04-10-2012, 07:01 AM (This post was last modified: 04-10-2012 07:16 AM by DLJ.)
RE: Who gets to decide what "good English" is?
On a recent flight, the seductively voiced attendant read the safety instructions.

I barely listen but somehow a jarring error jolts my consciousness...

"If there is an emergency you will be evacuated..."

Yes, I thought. If I hadn't already lost my shit just by knowing I was about to die, I would, probably, have shit myself (unassisted).

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07-10-2012, 12:31 AM
RE: Who gets to decide what "good English" is?
(28-09-2012 04:10 PM)cufflink Wrote:  
(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.

Thank you for your reply.

A question regarding the youth. I have worked with youth from many different backgrounds. In one community I worked in a couple of years ago, the youth came primarily from a well-off upper-middle to upper class lifestyle. These youth were very well educated in English and in French, but chose to speak with their own set of rules and slang. Is this more of a developmental (identity VS identity confusion) issue? I would talk back to them in plain English and they would refuse to speak by proper English standard or some would even pretend to not understand me at all. One of these youth went on vacation with his family to Jamaica and came back with a jamaican accent. He would even type out the slang (Erie ting i goi' be aaigh, mon). Two and a half years later, and he is still doing this. He will snap in and out of it, but mostly he now has a new Jamaican accent.

Also (and somewhat embarrassing, but I'm sure I'm not the only one) at some points (I catch myself now so not so much now as years ago) I have been known to speak back to someone who has ESL with their accent. I used to get so embarrassed and hope they didn't notice for fear they thought I was making fun of them, when really I was just trying to relate. Any insight into this? It's something I've never really understood.
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07-10-2012, 01:01 AM
RE: Who gets to decide what "good English" is?
(07-10-2012 12:31 AM)LadyJane Wrote:  [Also (and somewhat embarrassing, but I'm sure I'm not the only one) at some points (I catch myself now so not so much now as years ago) I have been known to speak back to someone who has ESL with their accent. I used to get so embarrassed and hope they didn't notice for fear they thought I was making fun of them, when really I was just trying to relate. Any insight into this? It's something I've never really understood.

It's called echolalia and it's easy to see the genetic benefit when there is need, for survival, to be part of the in-group.

See also, echopraxia but that's more to do with getting a chick in to bed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echolalia

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07-10-2012, 05:41 AM
RE: Who gets to decide what "good English" is?
(04-10-2012 07:01 AM)DLJ Wrote:  On a recent flight, the seductively voiced attendant read the safety instructions.

I barely listen but somehow a jarring error jolts my consciousness...

"If there is an emergency you will be evacuated..."

Yes, I thought. If I hadn't already lost my shit just by knowing I was about to die, I would, probably, have shit myself (unassisted).

With friends like that, who needs an enema?

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07-10-2012, 07:44 AM
Who gets to decide what "good English" is?
(04-10-2012 07:01 AM)DLJ Wrote:  On a recent flight, the seductively voiced attendant read the safety instructions.

I barely listen but somehow a jarring error jolts my consciousness...

"If there is an emergency you will be evacuated..."

Yes, I thought. If I hadn't already lost my shit just by knowing I was about to die, I would, probably, have shit myself (unassisted).

But how would you wipe it?

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07-10-2012, 03:52 PM
RE: Who gets to decide what "good English" is?
(07-10-2012 01:01 AM)DLJ Wrote:  
(07-10-2012 12:31 AM)LadyJane Wrote:  [Also (and somewhat embarrassing, but I'm sure I'm not the only one) at some points (I catch myself now so not so much now as years ago) I have been known to speak back to someone who has ESL with their accent. I used to get so embarrassed and hope they didn't notice for fear they thought I was making fun of them, when really I was just trying to relate. Any insight into this? It's something I've never really understood.

It's called echolalia and it's easy to see the genetic benefit when there is need, for survival, to be part of the in-group.

See also, echopraxia but that's more to do with getting a chick in to bed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echolalia





Isn't this more of an exact repitition, word for word? I just pronounce my own words with a (bad) accent.

I can see it would have benefits to survival, too, though.

Maybe it's just in my blood for a good reason. My great grandfather was Canadian French and he was one of five key international spies during WW1 to discover important maneuvering tactics, he had to have the precise France French accent or he would be revealed. He was the only spy of the five to survive.
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08-10-2012, 04:03 PM
Who gets to decide what "good English" is?
(07-10-2012 03:52 PM)LadyJane Wrote:  Isn't this more of an exact repitition, word for word? I just pronounce my own words with a (bad) accent.

I can see it would have benefits to survival, too, though.

Maybe it's just in my blood for a good reason.

Interesting, I thought I was all alone with my habit of mimicking people's accents. When I get around folks from UK or Australia I have this annoying tendency to begin mimicking their inflections, cadence, pronunciation, etc. I have to really restrain myself.

It often comes out in writing too. If the words I'm typing are heard with a British accent in my head as I'm typing them, I will invariably begin using words and phrases commonly used by such folk.

Perhaps I should look into voicing video games as an outlet.

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08-10-2012, 05:15 PM
RE: Who gets to decide what "good English" is?
My husband has a pretty strong southern accent but not as pronounced as his grandmother did, her's was very country southern. Not only was there a different accent but different word usage as well. I could always tell when my husband was talking to her on the phone as his speech would change to match her's.

I have southern relatives and midwestern relatives and will slip into those accents when speaking with them. Mine is much more a mix of the two. The southern accent of my family is quite unique due to the isolation on the island they were from, it's unlike any I have heard anywhere else. I think if you have an "ear" for accents, you tend to do that.

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