DiskuteraDo You Speak American?, Robert MacNeil

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Do You Speak American?, Robert MacNeil

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Redigerat: aug 10, 2014, 3:50pm

This was one of my decimal challenge books, but this one wasn't random. I wanted to read this one because I'm very interested in dialect in my area. Strangely enough my local library had NOTHING on the subject, but it had this book, which covers Hoi Toiders and some Mountain dialect, so at least part of my area had representation.

But under the grammatical veneer was a seething disobedience. Ordinary people, depending on their level of schooling, might make an effort to sound refined when they had to, but agree of that obligations just relaxed and used the language as it came naturally to them. They spoke as they dressed: formal suit and tie as infrequently as possible, work clothes or casual duds most of the time. p15

"When linguistic conservatives look at the way things were in the old days and say, 'well, everything used to be very proper, and now we have all these bad words and people are being careless and so forth,' in fact people always used to be that way," Sheidlower says. "It's just that you didn't hear them, because the media would only report on the language of the educated upper middle class. Nowadays...we see the language of other groups, of other social groups, of other income levels in a way that we never used to." p23
This is very VERY true... especially with the internet, things like facebook, vine and youtube. Gone are the days when America's Funniest Home Videos would shatter our world by looking into people's homes. Now we're bombarded with differences. Hopefully we're realizing that the differences just don't matter.

Tom Phillips was a script doctor for years at CBS News. He says that twenty years ago "we had the feeling we were writing for an audience of twelve-year-olds." Whom were they writing for now? ""I think maybe a seven-year-old." p28
Again, so true. People can't handle sophisticated language any more, not because they're unintelligent, but because no one sits down to listen, they're always half occupied with something else. Too much goes over their heads if you write "older."

Dennis Preston quote on page 135:
"It's pretty horrifying, when you think of it, that we can still describe people who just go about living their daily lives, speaking a language that they learned in their homes and in their neighborhoods, and have some outsider listen to it and say it's 'gibberish,' when it serves them perfectly well as a vehicle of communication for what they want to do in those environments."

Preston, who has studied many European languages, said that in most European countries kids do not go to school speaking the standard language of that country: "It's not true in Italy. It's not true in northern Switzerland, for example-there's a radically different dialect of German. But when those kids go to school the school system says to them: Now, look, when you travel outside of Switzerland or outside of Sicily or, you know, wherever we are, you're going to need standard Italian or standard German. It's not because--and here's the kicker--it's not because it's any better, and it's not because your dialect is dumb or insufficient for the things you do with friends and family. It's just that this variety is more widespread, there's a bigger literature in it, and it's just going to serve you well to learn it. So for some odd reason, in Europe they don't attack native dialects, they simply equip people with something else, which they think they should have. You can imagine the psychological repercussions of this. The kids who go to school say, 'Oh yeah, something else we got to learn,' rather than, 'Gee wiz, my brothers, my sisters, my friends, my whole family, my aunts, uncles use sloppy speech,' which is in fact what we do to kids in the American educational system."

Final quote for this post:
"People, when they see a face, they bring to bear stereotypes about how that person should behave, think, and speak. When those stereotypes run counter, people don't say, 'Oh, this person was brought up in a particular place, that's how their family spoke,' they say, 'There's something wrong here.' And that mistrust has consequences." - Clifford Nass, professor and director of the Institute for Communication Research. p 185
This is about creating robotic life that is comfortable for everyone, testing peoples reactions to say, Chinese Americans who speak an African American dialect. That wasn't the example given, but it is something similar.

This book is a VERY interesting read, I'm SO glad I picked it up!