Standard US English Dialect?

Gordon, Matthew J. GordonMJ at MISSOURI.EDU
Wed Apr 16 01:22:03 UTC 2008

For another example of Dennis's research in this area, you can read a full-text essay at:

The titles ("Where the worst English is spoken." "They speak really bad English down south and in New York City") reference folk beliefs about American dialects. 

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society on behalf of Benjamin Barrett
Sent: Tue 4/15/2008 5:45 PM
Subject:      Re: Standard US English Dialect?
Not sure if the attributions are exactly correct below, so check the
archives, but the paper is about dialectical perception as described at

Papers in linguistics frequently use double entendres and playfully
misleading statements to entice readers. BB

On Apr 15, 2008, at 3:26 PM, Tom Zurinskas wrote:

> Pay attention Scott.  Did I say right or wrong English?  No.
> Someone here has written about "Where the worst English is spoken"
> and thus they have a clue about "best" English.  Why don't you
> lecture that person about "right and wrong" and get off my case.
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> -----------------------
>> Sender: American Dialect Society
>> Poster: Scot LaFaive
>> Subject: Re: Standard US English Dialect?
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> I would think that the best English as a standard should be easiest
>> to understant.
>>> I would be interested to know which accent is clearest and least
>>> misunderstood.
>> There are so many things wrong with these statements that I'm a
>> little
>> befuddled about how to respond.
>> I hope you see that what is easy for one person to understand isn't
>> necessarily easy for another. Being from the Midland North I might
>> have trouble understanding someone from the bayous of Louisiana, but
>> they should understand each other quite well. It seems like you
>> consistently fail to realize this (or just enjoy provoking others):
>> "proper" English (or any language) is relative to who is speaking and
>> listening. There is no right or wrong English when people are
>> communicating.
>> Scot
>>>>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>>>> -----------------------
>>>>> Sender: American Dialect Society
>>>>> Poster: David Bowie
>>>>> Subject: Re: Standard US English Dialect?
>>>>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>>>> From: Dennis Preston
>>>>>> Poster: LanDi Liu
>>>>>>> As far as NYC middle class goes, that means very little as far
>>>>>>> as
>>>>>>> accents go. Because of the large amount of people that live in
>>>>>>> NYC
>>>>>>> that weren't born there, and the fact that different boroughs
>>>>>>> in NYC
>>>>>>> have different accents to begin with, and the fact that class
>>>>>>> and
>>>>>>> accent aren't so easily correlated anymore, I don't think
>>>>>>> anyone could
>>>>>>> say what a NYC middle class accent is. So probably the people in
>>>>>>> Japan and China (and elsewhere) think capital = standard. Most
>>>>>>> people
>>>>>>> think Beijing Chinese is standard, but that's a myth as well.
>>>>>> Washington DC is the capital of the US, not NYC.
>>>>> And of course, in dInIs's own work (see "Where the worst English
>>>>> is
>>>>> spoken"), you find that Washington DC does remarkably well in US
>>>>> folks'
>>>>> ratings for correctness--so maybe this capital==standard (or at
>>>>> least
>>>>> nearly standard) thing works in the US, as well.
>>>>> David, who grew up near enough to DC to disbelieve that NYC's
>>>>> really as
>>>>> important a city as it seems to believe
>>>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>>>> The American Dialect Society -
>>>> --
>>>> Dennis R. Preston
>>>> University Distinguished Professor
>>>> Department of English
>>>> Morrill Hall 15-C
>>>> Michigan State University
>>>> East Lansing, MI 48864 USA

The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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