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

Herb Stahlke hfwstahlke at GMAIL.COM
Mon May 29 22:05:21 EDT 2017

The language of the Nigerian Scam letters tends to represent a register of
Nigerian English used in formal contexts by writers who have not mastered
the various registers of British or American English.  This register feels
like a more formal variant of the register made familiar by the works of
Amos Tutuola, which, if you haven't read, are worth the time.


On Mon, May 29, 2017 at 4:44 PM, Barretts Mail <mail.barretts at gmail.com>

> > 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

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

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