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

Barretts Mail mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM
Mon May 29 16:44:00 EDT 2017

> On 29 May 2017, at 11:21, Amy West <medievalist at W-STS.COM> wrote:
> 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

In dialects where the plural -s and third-person -s are used in variation with s-less forms, such as found in Indian and Hawaiian, are such variations treated as syntactic variations, just as n/ng are treated as phonetic variations for the -ing suffix?

Are such syntactic variations considered by native speakers to be more offensive than phonetic variations?

Benjamin Barrett
Formerly of Seattle, WA
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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