frightened by solecism

Herbert Stahlke hstahlke at ATT.NET
Wed Apr 10 17:14:12 UTC 2002

That's a hard judgment to get around.  Obviously we know
as linguists, and, I would like to hope, as liberally
educated people, that non-Standard features say nothing
about one's value as a person.

That said, we still look upon pharmacists as people who
have earned a certain social power and authority because
of their field and their attainment.  In a society where
access to such power and opportunity is routinely
offered to people to the extent that they have mastered
Standard English, it's not surprising that we react
negatively to a person who has that status but doesn't
demonstrate the linguistic attainment we require for
access to it.

I've been tutoring the eleven-year-old son of a friend
in the small town I live in, and last night we were
going over his English homework, exercises in the use of
subject and object pronouns.  It was obvious that he
recognized the social differences that the different
usages defined.  He knew how he talked to his friends
versus how he was supposed to talk to his teacher and
understood the import of this for his own credibility in
either context.  Something that kids know by the age of
eleven isn't something we're going to shake easily.

> I phoned my pharmacist today and the pharmacist said, "Your doctor didn't
> send us no new prescription for you."
> I try not to be judgmental about language, but, for a brief moment I waivered
> here. Did I really want to put my life in the hands of a druggist who uses
> multiple negation in service encounters?
> Is there a lesson here for students?

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