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#59177 - 02/28/02 07:48 PM Dialects
musick Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/24/00
Posts: 2658
Loc: Chicago
After finally getting caught up with all posts and with my head spinning from a thousand different ideas, I'd thought an attempt at continuing a conversation I had last night would settle me in a bit. I've been a substitute teacher for the Chicago Public School system, on the west side (where my home is), so I have first hand experience with this *issue.

When a student goes into a classroom and is taught SE (Standard English), they are being taught a dialect of English. When they go home they are speaking another dialect of English, if they are speaking English. They speak one dialect of English at home, out in the schoolyard, at the candy store, on the playlot, or out in the alley. The school is only place they use/learn the SE dialect (most of the West Siders, anyway). Although I know about the *need to call dialects a name, there is just about as much Standard in SE as there is Black in so-called Black English.

This country spends time and resources to *allow a bilingual person, but not a bidialectical person. We'll spend enormous resources on making sure the cultures of other countries are respected, yet we don't respect the other cultures that are staring us in the face. This is becoming more and more of an issue when it comes to what is considered an educated person or not. It is the same problem that has surfaced as people being discriminated against by the way their voice sounds on the phone. It is what makes one race slander another, and it is clearly based on a lack of understanding, on both "sides": those that are currently learning SE but haven't grasped it yet, and those that don't acknowledge other dialects of English, and never learn them.

My friend, whose parents are Japanesse, chimed in and added that the symbol for the meaning "surprise" is the same in these three dialects - Court Japanesse, Kagoshima and Kumamoto - but they are pronounced completely differently - no audible similarities at all. I'm sure that what she called Court Japanesse is what is taught in schools, but these dialects exist within miles of each other, and a person that can speak freely within all the dialects has *clear social advantages.

I think we should be teaching all the current dialects of English that we can. We've *borrowed from other languages and put them into our dictionary, We should be insuring that more of what is considered "slang" (slang, my ass) is acknowledged as the part of a dialect of English.

IMFHO, of course.


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#59178 - 02/28/02 10:01 PM Re: Dialects
slithy toves Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 01/29/02
Posts: 320
Loc: Sarasota, Florida, US
I think we should be teaching all the current dialects of English that we can.]

There are many people who would agree with you, musick. And probably as many who would vehemently disagree. A while back there was a popular movement directed at teaching "black English" in the US public schools. For a while, as I recall, it was labeled Ebonics (for ebony, I assume). I was teaching in a public school at the time, and I recall a conversation with a colleague who happened to be black. Her comment was, "When my child is taught English, I will make it my business to insist that he is taught the kind of English that will get him into college and a meaningful career."

Most of us have multiple dialects, if that is the right term As youngsters we learn to use one type of language in the schoolroom, another with our parents, still another when we're out with our buddies. Then, of course, there are the more pronounced regional and ethnic dialects, involving vocabulary and pronunciation. If by teaching we mean including many or all of these in the public-school curriculum, we're in for a real challenge. I'd be interested in how others perceive this issue.


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#59179 - 03/01/02 09:55 AM Re: Dialects
Flatlander Offline
addict

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 428
Loc: Cape Cod, MA, US
Then, of course, there are the more pronounced regional and ethnic dialects, involving vocabulary and pronunciation. If by teaching we mean including many or all of these in the public-school curriculum, we're in for a real challenge.

I think you're right about that, slithy. Teaching students what to call a sub/hero/hoagie in various parts of the country is pretty pointless, in my opinion, but wouldn't it open students' minds to teach them about your previous sentence:

Most of us have multiple dialects, if that is the right term As youngsters we learn to use one type of language in the schoolroom, another with our parents, still another when we're out with our buddies.

And then telling them that all of those dialects are "valid" and that all of the dialects they may hear others use are equally "valid", and that the dialect they are learning in school is the dialect that is most likely to lead them to college and a meaningful career (but maybe not if they are applying for a job at MTV or a hip-hop/urban magazine or the Southern Belles Association, or somewhere). I always appreciated it when teachers let us in on the "secret" that what they were teaching us was not always right or might not be cutting edge or might be controversial -- I think it insipires tolerance and a healthy willingness to question authority.


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#59180 - 03/01/02 10:30 AM Re: Dialects
slithy toves Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 01/29/02
Posts: 320
Loc: Sarasota, Florida, US
Good points, F'lander. In my teaching days I would sometimes introduce the concept of "persona," having students read excerpts from, say, Great Expectations, Huck Finn, and Catcher in the Rye; then compare the speaking styles of the narrators. Most of the kids loved doing this, discovering along the way that a literary style such as Pip's doesn't necessarily communicate any more effectively than the others. Unfortunately it's much harder to find a similar array of girls' voices--but that's another subject.


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#59181 - 03/01/02 02:11 PM Re: Dialects
Sparteye Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/05/01
Posts: 1773
When a student goes into a classroom and is taught SE (Standard English), they are being taught a dialect of English. When they go home they are speaking another dialect of English, if they are speaking English. They speak one dialect of English at home, out in the schoolyard, at the candy store, on the playlot, or out in the alley.

Wow, really? Why is the language used in school so different from that used at home? My language didn't differ between the two. Now, my language differs a bit between work and home, but the difference is mostly based upon the difference in the usual subject matter. The language I use on a sports message board - a board relatively full of young males with slangy language - varies little from the language I use here or on other boards with very different constituencies.

Am I an anomaly?


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#59182 - 03/01/02 02:27 PM Re: Dialects
Fiberbabe Offline
old hand

Registered: 01/12/01
Posts: 771
Loc: Portland, Oregon
Sparteye asks: Am I an anomaly?

Oooooh. Must..... resist...... temptation....




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#59183 - 03/01/02 04:01 PM Re: Dialects
musick Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/24/00
Posts: 2658
Loc: Chicago
Why is the language used in school so different from that used at home? My language didn't differ between the two.

I'll adjust the stress of my words to indicate that (even in my personal life) the difference between home and school is less than school -vs- other than home social situations.

Although the nature of 'certain stresses' brought about by living in a materialist based ideology (seeing success in that realm but not living it or seeing opportunities) may be only one of the catalysts for developing a *exclusive dialect that intends to create a different playing feild - with some hope of creating an advantage - it certainly is a strong one. In some neighborhoods and social situations it is a matter of survival!

As the goals of society vary, so shall the language. If pursuit of different happinesses are imbedded in our so-called Democracy, freedom and availabilities of different 'cultures' should be 'promoted', yet it is clear that aint what is happinin'. I know it's a big job, but we have a lot of people not doing anything. Maybe when government institutes the "none of the above" vote into elections will languages be represented as they *are and not as the 'status quo' believes they should be. Eh, just maybe.

The goals of your slangy sports buddies and you are *probably not that different. I'm not convinced what you're calling "very different constituencies" actually are.


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#59184 - 03/01/02 04:07 PM Re: Dialects
musick Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/24/00
Posts: 2658
Loc: Chicago
There are many people who would agree with you, musick. And probably as many who would vehemently disagree.

... but any that vehemently agree?


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#59185 - 03/01/02 06:26 PM Re: Dialects
Sparteye Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/05/01
Posts: 1773
Sparteye asks: Am I an anomaly?

Oooooh. Must..... resist...... temptation....


OK, FB. Here's something I don't normally say at work: ppppppppppfffffffffffffffffftttttttttttttt!!!!!!!!!!!!






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#59186 - 03/01/02 06:38 PM Re: Dialects
Keiva Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/04/01
Posts: 2605
Am I an anomaly?

No, that makes you special. IMHO, it's laudable.



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