Language lessons: It's time for English teachers to stop teaching that the earth is flat

RonButters at AOL.COM RonButters at AOL.COM
Thu Dec 3 16:59:55 UTC 2009

Don't blame Global Warming, blame William Wordsworth. He was the guy who 
said that the only language worth repeating was that of ordinary men [sic] 
speaking to other men. 

Or maybe we should just blame Jesus, who spent most of his time hanging out 
with poor people, curing their physical ailments (but not putting down 
their speech patterns) and condemning the follkways of the rich.

In a message dated 12/3/09 10:04:06 AM, grendel.jjf at VERIZON.NET writes:

> Hardly surprising when "descriptivism" has been used as a stalking horse 
> for
> permissivism, chaos, and cultural degeneration.  It always seems to be the
> speech patterns of the thugs and slugs that is celebrated by
> "descriptivists", as though epidemiologists went about encouraging 
> everyone
> to get Legionnaires' disease.  Descriptivism vs. prescriptivism is a false
> dichotomy.  Certainly if the "descriptivists" were honest, they would
> concede that the "prescriptivists" are being more accurately descriptive
> when they point out that talking like Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and
> Sarah Palin will get you laughed at by users of coastal dialects.  (And
> doesn't it seem that Palin, like Carter, has spent some time with a voice
> coach smoothing her accent?)
> Sean Fitzpatrick
> Mais où sont les neiges d'antan?
> I blame Global Warming.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Dennis Baron [mailto:debaron at ILLINOIS.EDU]
> Sent: Wednesday, December 02, 2009 12:02 AM
> Subject: Language lessons: It’s time for English teachers to stop teaching
> that the earth is flat
> There's a new post on the Web of Language:
> Language lessons: It’s time for English teachers to stop teaching that
> the earth is flat
> When I asked a class of prospective teachers to discuss the impact on
> students of prescriptive rules like "Don't split infinitives," "Don't
> end sentences with prepositions," and "Don't use contractions," one
> student ignored the descriptive grammar we had been studying to equate
> correctness in language with intelligent design:
> I think I support prescriptivism. I believe that some words are
> absolutely unacceptable in any situation. I think there should be an
> accepted way of speaking and deviation would not be tolerated. I
> believe in a set of absolute values. I believe there is one right and
> wrong for everyone. Perhaps what I think is right is not what you
> think is right but in the final analysis that isn't going to matter.
> What God thinks is right is what really matters and He doesn't have
> one right for you and one right for me.
> Her faith-based answer, God speaks standard English so you should too,
> may be extreme, but her emphasis on correct language is one that too
> many English teachers accept without question. So far as grammar
> lessons go, it's time they stopped teaching that the earth is flat.
> Read the whole post on the Web of Language:
> ____________________
> Dennis Baron
> Professor of English and Linguistics
> Department of English
> University of Illinois
> 608 S. Wright St.
> Urbana, IL 61801
> office: 217-244-0568
> fax: 217-333-4321
> read the Web of Language:
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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