apparently I'm a bigoted hypocrite

Gordon, Matthew J. GordonMJ at MISSOURI.EDU
Fri Sep 28 00:20:40 UTC 2012

You might point out that your advice amounts to encouraging people (especially impressionable youth) to think critically about English grammar and approach it as the fascinating subject that it is. The problem (well, one of them) with traditional pedagogical approaches to grammar is that they assume all the facts have been sorted out, that everything has been adequately described and categorized, and that the job of the student is simply to learn all that received wisdom. Students are never exposed to the idea that analyses of grammar are matters of debate and that evidence-based arguments can be made for one interpretation over another. Maybe if we promoted this view of grammar, kids wouldn't find the subject so tedious. They might become interested in how English actually works. This would make them more aware of stylistic/register variation, and they might learn to follow stupid prescriptivist rules in those few situations where they really matter socially.

Or, you know, just ignore the commenter.

-Matt Gordon
From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of James Harbeck [jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA]
Sent: Thursday, September 27, 2012 6:29 PM
Subject: apparently I'm a bigoted hypocrite

Sheesh, attempt to teach people nuances of how language works and how to use it effectively and get this kind of abuse -- from a comment at :

Your advice doesn’t help my students, who are grappling with learning English that is acceptable to employers and have been crippled in their basic educations by progressive theories so that employers reject them. Perhaps you think it is clever to suggest that students who have trouble competing with Ivy League graduates should thrive on messy English. In fact, you and the educators who agree with you cripple students from less-than-elite backgrounds. There is a vicious elitism in your and related progressive education theories which I struggle to combat. I notice that your own writing does not violate Grammar Girl’s rules. Hypocritical theories like yours have victimized my students, and I can’t help but suggest that your ideas are self-serving and bigoted. I’m willing to bet that your own children won’t be crippled the way the New York City school system has crippled my students.

Sigh. I have to go to the theatre. Anyone else want to respond to this guy before I get to it?

James Harbeck.
The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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