2017-2018 #2: Other Englishes

Progress is being made on our project! I am constantly trying to dig up new media sources to go along with my last post that shows the portrayal of standard English as the golden standard for our project, branching off from the My Fair Lady discussion. It is interesting to process all these depictions of standard English as being the ‘proper’ English in media, especially since it isn’t something that we specifically pick up on during a movie viewing. At this point, I’m getting close to touching upon each facet of our project (the social media portion is coming next), but I’d like to dive a little deeper into each previous section to really flesh out my arguments. However, I think I’ve done pretty well at laying a foundation for the remainder of the research, which is really exciting! The rise in prominence of other Englishes besides standard English is really intriguing to look into.

This next portion of the project focuses on ‘Other Englishes’, which I’ve begun to look into. Contrary to popular belief, the presence of other Englishes has already begun embedding itself in our everyday lives. This shift away from monolinguistic language has come with the need to make the language sound more and more like the ‘informal’ language used in everyday life. For this particular post and because it hits so close to home for me, I will focus on the Geoffrey K. Pullum’s “African American Vernacular English Is Not Standard English With Mistakes”. The recognition of African American Vernacular English (AAVE) is not a new phenomenon; in 1996, one California school-board meeting in Oakland ended with the decision to recognize AAVE as a language, deemed it as classroom appropriate, and trained teachers to “look at it objectively and appreciate its merits” (Pullum 39). However, the decision was met with harsh criticism and ridicule, mostly due to the perception that AAVE is a degenerate form of standard English plagued with mistakes in grammar and pronunciation—the “street slang of an ignorant urban underclass” (Pullum 40). However, Pullum rejects this claim, noting that there is a clear distinction between slang and AAVE. He argues that “no subculture’s slang could constitute a language” because slang consists of words and phrases that feeds off a host language, possessing no grammar of its own (Pullum 40). AAVE, however, does not possess the same qualities as slang. AAVE, in fact, is a dialect of English—”a classificatory claim [that is the same as saying] a white-tailed deer is a kind of deer”; ‘dialect’ is not a term that is meant to portray one—AAVE, in this case—as a lesser form of another (Pullum 44). Pullum also identifies AAVE as having “a degree of regularity and stability attributable to a set of rules or grammar of rules and punctuation, as with any language” (45). This argument demands that AAVE gets the respect and recognization it deserves.

This only touches the surface of Pullum’s argument. I’d like to dig deeper into the argument to discover how this specific argument can be applied to a variety of Englishes outside of AAVE.

Source: https://web.stanford.edu/~zwicky/aave-is-not-se-with-mistakes.pdf

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *