Standard English: The Widening Debate by Tony Bex, Richard J. Watts

By Tony Bex, Richard J. Watts

Typical English attracts jointly the best overseas students within the box, who confront the debates surrounding 'Standard English', grammar and correctness head-on.These debates are as severe this present day as ever and expand a long way past a tutorial context. present debates concerning the educating of English within the institution curriculum and matters approximately declining criteria of English are put in a ancient, social and foreign context. normal English:* explores the definitions of 'Standard English', with specific realization to differences among spoken and written English* lines the belief of 'Standard English' from its roots within the overdue 17th century via to the current day.This is an available, seminal paintings which clarifies an more and more harassed subject. It contains contributions from: Ronald Carter, Jenny Cheshire, Tony Crowley, James Milroy, Lesley Milroy and Peter Trudgill.

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In some cases, by making statements to the effect that it is ‘a scientific fact’ that all languages are equal, they have contributed to the confusion and misunderstanding that have characterised the debate. Of course, this is not ‘a fact’, and it is not ‘scientific’: it is not possible to demonstrate empirically that forms of language are either equal or unequal, or even that ‘some are more equal than others’ purely as linguistic objects. A claim of this sort is ideological, just as the claims that are made against it are ideological, and it is unwise for linguists to make public claims about linguistic equality unless they are aware that such claims will be interpreted as ideological.

Grace comments (1991:15): ‘One of the things I found most puzzling was that in some areas the people seem to have no conception of what their language is and no sense of belonging to a linguistic community’. It is not precisely that they don’t know which language they are speaking: the concept of a language community has not even occurred to them. Heryanto (1990:41), cited by Mühlhäusler, points out that language ‘is not a universal category or cultural activity though it may sound odd, not all people have a language in a sense of which this term is currently used in English’.

The general public tends to accept the authority of many prescriptive pronouncements. Most people claim to believe that there are correct and incorrect ways of speaking and may well accept, quite wrongly, that their own speech—to the extent that it is non-standard—is ‘ungrammatical’. Very approximately, the forms that they believe are ‘correct’ are roughly equivalent to ‘standard’, careful or literary forms. It does not follow that people necessarily use these standard forms themselves (and careful forms are not generally favoured in casual speech by any speaker), or even that they are always aware of exactly what these forms are, but they are often keenly aware that to use non-standard forms is undesirable for broadly social reasons, and they want their children to be taught ‘correct’ English.

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