Coffee as a last name

Dennis R. Preston preston at MSU.EDU
Sun Dec 9 14:54:55 UTC 2007


This is joke, right? Or 'b---h' is some TM expression I don't know?
Or the 'solidarity use of the word I take it to be?


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>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
>Subject:      Re: Coffee as a last name
>Donna Christian?! I know that b----h!
>On Dec 8, 2007 6:11 AM, Tom Zurinskas <truespel at> wrote:
>>  ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>  Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>  Poster:       Tom Zurinskas <truespel at HOTMAIL.COM>
>>  Subject:      Re: Coffee as a last name
>>  What's the difference between vernacular dialect and dialect?
>>  from
>>  Vernacular Dialects in U.S. Schools
>>  Donna Christian, Center for Applied Linguistics
>>  Download a PDF of this digest.
>>  The Dialect Issue
>>  Children from different backgrounds come to school speaking a wide
>>variety of dialects. Should our schools try to teach all students
>>to use a standard dialect? If so, how? If not, how should different
>>dialects be handled in the school setting? What impact does
>>speaking a non-school dialect have on students' academic success
>>and on their interactions with others in and out of school? These
>>complex and controversial questions have been debated through the
>>years, but they have become increasingly prominent in the last
>>three decades. In particular, the controversy aroused by the
>>December 1996 announcement of the Oakland (CA) School board about
>>its policy on the instruction of African American vernacular
>>dialect speakers underscores the fact that these issues have not
>>been resolved.
>>  One central issue in this controversy is whether mastery and use
>>of a standard dialect should be required in schools. Some people
>>consider such a requirement to be discriminatory, because it places
>>an extra burden on certain students. Others argue that it is a
>>responsibility of the education system to teach a standard dialect
>>to broaden students' skills and opportunities. For instance,
>>students who do not develop facility with standard English may find
>>that their employment or educational potential is restricted. A
>>student's chances for success in school and in later life may be
>>related to mastery of standard English.
>>  Consequences of Dialect Differences
>>  Dialect differences can affect the quality of education received
>>by some students both academically and socially (Labov, 1995). A
>>child's dialect may interfere with the acquisition of information
>>and with various educational skills such as reading. In a court
>>case in Ann Arbor (MI) in 1979, a group of African-American parents
>>sued the local school system on behalf of their children, claiming
>>that students were being denied equal educational opportunity
>>because of their language background (Chambers & Bond, 1983; Farr
>>Whiteman, 1980). Specifically, the parents maintained that the
>>schools were failing to teach their children to read because the
>>language differences represented by their children's vernacular
>>dialect were not taken into account. The parents won their lawsuit,
>>and the schools were ordered to provide special staff training
>>related to dialects and the teaching of reading.
>>  The social consequences of belonging to a different dialect group
>>may be more subtle, but are just as important. The attitudes of
>>teachers, school personnel, and other students can have a
>>tremendous impact on the education process. Often, people who hear
>>a vernacular dialect make erroneous assumptions about the speaker's
>>intelligence, motivation, and even morality. Studies have shown
>>that there can be a self-fulfilling prophecy in teachers' beliefs
>>about their students' abilities (Cazden, 1988). If an educator
>>underestimates a student's ability because of dialect differences,
>>the student will do less well in school, perhaps as a direct result
>>of the negative expectations. In some cases, students are "tracked"
>>with lower achievers or even placed in special education classes
>>because of their vernacular speech patterns.
>  >
>>  Difference vs. Deficit
>>  Negative attitudes about speech start with the belief that
>>vernacular dialects are linguistically inferior to standard
>>versions of the language. In fact, the language systems of various
>>groups of speakers may differ, but no one system is inherently
>>better than any other. Research clearly supports the position that
>>variation in language is a natural reflection of cultural and
>>community differences (Labov, 1972).
>>  Despite linguistic equality among dialects, students' language and
>>cultural backgrounds may influence their chances for success. When
>>children from nonmainstream backgrounds enter school, they are
>>confronted with new ways of viewing the world and new ways of
>>behaving. Uses of language, both oral and written, are centrally
>>involved in this new culture (Farr & Daniels, 1986). Heath's (1983)
>>detailed account of language and culture patterns in two rural
>>working class communities demonstrates clearly the conflict between
>>language and cultural practices in the community and in the school.
>>To move toward school expectations, children may have to adapt to
>>language structures and patterns of usage that are different from
>>those they have been using: for example, saying "They don't have
>>any" instead of "They don't have none" in school settings, or
>>learning rules governing when and how to make requests.
>>  Guidelines for Teaching a Standard Dialect
>>  The fact that language differences do not represent linguistic and
>>cognitive deficiencies is an important premise for any education
>>program. Given the advantages that may be associated with the
>>ability to use standard English in appropriate situations, most
>>schools include it as a goal of instruction for all students. Some
>>general guidelines should be followed in teaching standard English
>>at any level (Wolfram & Christian, 1989).
>>  The teaching of standard English must take into account the
>>importance of the group reference factor. Speakers who want to
>>participate in a particular social group will typically learn the
>>language of that group, whereas those with no group reference or
>>with antagonistic feelings toward the group are less likely to do
>>  Instruction in standard English should be coupled with information
>>about the nature of dialect diversity. By giving students
>>information about various dialects, including their own, teachers
>>can demonstrate the integrity of all dialects. This approach
>>clarifies the relationship between standard and vernacular
>>dialects, underscoring the social values associated with each and
>>the practical reasons for learning the standard dialect.
>>  Teachers and materials developers need a clear understanding of
>>the systematic differences between standard and vernacular dialects
>>in order to help students learn standard English.
>>  The dialect of spoken standard English that is taught should
>>reflect the language norms of the community. The goal of
>>instruction should be to learn the standard variety of the local
>>community, not some formal dialect of English that is not actually
>>used in the area. Regional standards are particularly relevant in
>>the case of pronunciation features.
>>  Language instruction should include norms of language use, along
>>with standard English structures. Speaking a standard dialect
>>includes the use of particular conversational styles as well as
>>particular language forms. For example, using standard English in a
>>business telephone conversation does not involve simply using
>>standard grammar and pronunciation. It also involves other
>>conventions, such as asking the caller to "hold" if an interruption
>>is called for, or performing certain closing routines before
>>hanging up.
>>  The teaching of standard English requires careful thought, ranging
>>from underlying educational philosophy to particular teaching
>>strategies, if it is to be carried out effectively and equitably.
>>  Dialect Diversity: Opportunity, Not Liability
>>  The active study of dialects can benefit students from all
>>linguistic backgrounds by helping them gain a better understanding
>>of how language works (Adger, 1997; Wolfram, Christian, & Adger, in
>>press). At one level, dialect differences may be treated as an
>>interesting topic within language arts study. For example, a unit
>>on vocabulary differences from different parts of the country can
>>be both fun and instructive. (Where do they say "soda" vs. "pop"?
>>Or "bag" vs. "sack" vs. "poke"?) When treated more comprehensively,
>>dialect study can provide the opportunity for students to do
>>empirical research and to develop critical thinking skills:
>>observation, comparison, argumentation. Every school has nearby
>>communities that are linguistically interesting, both in themselves
>>and in how they compare with other communities. Students can
>>examine their own speech patterns and gather language samples from
>>other residents in the area. Such investigations can have the added
>>advantages of e!
>  nh!
>>   ancing self-awareness and the understanding of cultural diversity
>>(Erickson, 1997). Further, sending students into the community can
>>contribute to preservation of the cultural and oral traditions of
>>the region. The exploration of varieties of English can also help
>>students gain insight into differences between spoken and written
>>language, as well as variations related to formality, genre, and
>>special registers.
>>  The concept of using dialect diversity and the cultural diversity
>>that accompanies it as a resource in the curriculum presents a
>>viewpoint that is very different from many traditional approaches.
>>Instead of seeing differences as barriers to be overcome, the
>>differences provide fascinating topics for scientific study.
>>  Tom Zurinskas, USA - CT20, TN3, NJ33, FL5+
>>  See - and the 4 truespel books plus "Occasional
>>Poems" at
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>All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
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Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor
Department of English
15C Morrill Hall
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
preston at

The American Dialect Society -

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