:-) mostly -- McWhorter on "standard English"

Amy West medievalist at W-STS.COM
Fri Jan 15 13:36:19 UTC 2010

He doesn't use the term artificial: I did.  It's my poor paraphrasing.

The point that he makes in the chapter on language errors is that
many of the "errors" that we think we make when speaking aren't
errors at all. Rather, that's the true form of the language, and then
we have the prescriptive rules imposed on them to create standard
English. The use of oblique "me" in places where standard English
calls for "I" is one of the examples he uses. He's OK with "Me and
Bob went to the store." and supports his position that this is the
natural form in spoken English. But, that's not standard, is it?

He makes an excellent point that dialect used as standard English is
"chosen" not because it's better, but because of it's relationship to
the place of power, politics, etc. and that can change. He points to
the change in the standard pronunciation used in post-WWII films and
broadcasts. Pre-WWII an r-less Northeastern accent was used;
post-WWII an r-ful Midwestern accent becomes the standard.

---Amy West

>* [smiley off]  Why does McWhoter call standard English "artificial",
>when it is presumably spoken by some speakers of English, just as
>AAVE is?  Or does McWhorter believe that no-one speaks standard English?

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

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