He asked “Should youths who speak stigmatized dialects of English (i.e. Ebonics, southern accents, cockney, etc.) learn to use standard English first by reading/writing it or by hearing/speaking it?”
I was confused.
First of all, what the fuck is ‘standard English’?
Second of all, why do people…
Maybe I’m wrong but I interpreted this to mean “proper grammar” which isn’t really an offensive thing to ask imo…?
The thing is, “proper grammar” is a thing that is constantly changing and evolving based on the way people speak. The people who decide what is “proper” are the people in power, namely the upper class white men who are constantly looking for ways to put down anyone who is not an upper class white man. So, if you’re a black man from the inner city and speak ebonics, or from a poor family from Appalachia, or a white girl from the valley, you’re going to be automatically dismissed by universities or businesses or even regular people because even though you have amazing ideas or exceptional intelligence you don’t express yourself in ways that appeals to the deans or the CEOs or the guy at McDonalds.
And never let it be said that it’s so we can all understand each other because that is straight up bullshit. If you have trouble understanding any English dialect it’s not because the dialect is “wrong,” it’s because you haven’t been exposed to it. Diversity is never a bad thing to be exposed to.
Another thing people like to say is speaking or writing “properly” makes you sound “educated.” That is also bullshit. The only people who grow up speaking “properly” are the people who have been lucky enough to have parents who speak “properly.” People learn to speak from the people their surrounded by. If you grow up in the south, you learn to speak from your southern accented parents. You go to school with other children from the south, who also speak with southern accents. Your teachers are presumably from the south who speak the same way you do. If you then wanted to go to say, a New England college, or get a job in broadcasting, you are going to be automatically looked at as less-than simply because of the circumstances of your environment. EVEN THOUGH you might be incredibly intelligent or charismatic.
It’s classist and elitist and racist and I hate it.
Well, I agree with a lot of your points … I just feel like you’re also kind of blowing them up beyond the intention of the question of the class.
Although I don’t agree with grammar changing. I think dialects and grammar are different, and grammar’s been the same for a long time; people just don’t always follow the rules. Not, it’s worth repeating, that I think that makes them harder to understand, etc.
EITHER WAY THOUGH, I don’t want to start a serious debate and I hope you have a good night. :D
Well of course the intention of the question was how “standard english” should be taught and whether people learn dialects the same way they learn foreign languages, but the assumption that a person “should” speak a certain way is indicative to the way we’re all subconsciously trying to change the way we are perceived in order to gain access to this super secret success club.
Just by asking this question, by professor is perpetuating this myth that we all need to conform to these ideals when what we should be focusing on is non-conformity.
And ‘grammar’ is historically a continuously changing standard. Originally, English was very Germanic, then the French invaded England and the English adopted a lot of French vocabulary because the French were in power and the English wanted to be a part of that upper class (notice a pattern?). You only have to read a bit of Chaucer or Shakespeare or any book written in the past to see how much English has changed over the years. We don’t write like the Victorians did because our way of speaking and understanding has changed and is constantly changing. The printing press and typewriter and computer and cell phone have all triggered DRASTIC change in what is “correct” when it comes to writing.
Also, thanks for responding politely. I wouldn’t really call this a ‘serious debate’ so much as a discussion but good night to you, too.