Quoted without comment

Geoff Nathan geoffnathan at WAYNE.EDU
Wed Jan 13 00:01:29 UTC 2010

And one of our own has much better things to say:



Geoffrey S. Nathan
Faculty Liaison, C&IT
and Associate Professor, Linguistics Program
+1 (313) 577-1259 (C&IT)
+1 (313) 577-8621 (English/Linguistics)

----- "James A. Landau <JJJRLandau at netscape.com>" <JJJRLandau at NETSCAPE.COM> wrote:

> From: "James A. Landau <JJJRLandau at netscape.com>" <JJJRLandau at NETSCAPE.COM>
> Sent: Tuesday, January 12, 2010 4:12:09 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern
> Subject: Quoted without comment
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "James A. Landau <JJJRLandau at netscape.com>"
>               <JJJRLandau at NETSCAPE.COM>
> Subject:      Quoted without comment
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2010/01/12/2010-01-12_harry_reid_read_my_lips_theres_no_such_thing_as_negro_dialect.html
> Harry Reid, read my lips: There's no such thing as 'Negro dialect'
> By Michael Meyers
> Special to NYDailyNews.com
> Tuesday, January 12th 2010, 3:48 PM
> <snip>
> there is no such thing as "Negro dialect." Like "the Negro" itself,
> so-called "Negro dialect" is a fiction created to assign qualities and
> habits and deficits to a "race" of people. But blacks are not a
> "race"; we're people who happen to have darker skin than whites. We
> are individuals who belong to the same race as do whites and
> "Hispanics" and Asians.
> If, as individuals, we speak less than standard or perfect English,
> then that is a personal failing and a challenge - not a racial
> character trait. Indeed, as many American blacks were coming up and
> out of enslavement, they learned broken English from their overseers
> because many whites then and now (and not just in the South) don't
> know the rules, much less the syntax and grammar, of the English
> language.
> Dialects, accents and regional differences in language are fluid and
> not always fluent, but are never "racial." Some immigrants have been
> singled out for their slovenly English; others learn and speak
> sparkling English. Those of all hues who inhabit a New York borough
> are sometimes said to speak "Brooklyn-ese" or "Bronx" - but plenty of
> times we speak Standard American English.
> The world is a complicated place, where individuals consistently
> overwhelm types.
> Swirling prejudices about which groups learn and speak Standard
> English have been passed on from generation to generation - and have
> even been adopted by America's race industry, which proudly and
> falsely proclaims that blacks are "different" from whites in values
> and mannerisms and the language we speak.
> This is the notion of which Reid needed to be disabused. Yet not one
> of our race leaders broke ranks to tell Harry Reid the plain truth
> when he called upon them for absolution. Not one of them said to him,
> "Harry, read my lips: There is no such thing as 'Negro dialect.' "
> <snip>
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