[Ads-l] OT: comments re: assumptions about dialects was Re: Miscellanea: Well, that makes sense.

Amy West medievalist at W-STS.COM
Mon May 29 14:21:17 EDT 2017


On 5/22/17 12:00 AM, ADS-L automatic digest system (Actually, Wilson) wrote:
> that Nigerian Letters are always easily recognizable by
> the clumsiness of their English composition. It was explained to him that
> the poor English was the very heart of the scam. A reader alert to the
> niceties of written English is also likely to see the illogic of the scam.

As, always a day (or 7 late) . . .

I haven't seen any follow-up comments to this, and these comments I'm 
about to make are only tangentially related to American dialects just by 
being about dialects, and I realize that my job here on the list is to 
point out the obvious . . .

But, wow, there's a whole mess of assumptions about dialects packed into 
here, aren't there? And these are not necessarily Wilson's but the folks 
on Dr. Phil, and I think Wilson is merely calling them out. (See the 
point above about me pointing out the obvious.)

First, can we treat Nigerian English as a dialect of English? (Yup.) Is 
the "clumsiness of their composition" rooted in the dialect? Perhaps. 
And the assumption that someone who is "smart" (my word)/educated enough 
to recognize non-standard/non-dominant dialect is going to be 
"smart"/educated enough to not fall for the scam. Wow. This is a great 
example of popular assumptions and attitudes about language (I truly 
mean that, Wilson) and could really be richly used in a classroom.

---Amy West

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The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


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