printability and standardization

Christina Paulston paulston+ at
Mon Jan 12 01:13:15 UTC 2004

Dear Lynn,
    still smart and sensible ( comment to a former student - not part of
this debate) :-) Christina

>From: Lynn Goldstein <lgoldstein at>
>To: lgpolicy-list at
>Subject: Re: printability and standardization
>Date: Sun, Jan 11, 2004, 7:15 PM

> I’ve been lurking in the background reading what everyone has to say; this
> email really isn’t in reply to anyone’s in particular. I agree with almost
> everything that has been said and that in fact is the problem. I can see
> all sides in terms of the social issues involved in language choice,
> language use, and language education. Yes, some people want English
> (Standard- whatever that really is) and I can understand why, in terms
> what is gained. On the other hand having Standard English (or Standard
> other languages) doesn’t necessarily get people what they want if they
> don’t have other types of capital, so it’s just not that simple. I can
> also understand wanting to redress imbalances of power, to not buy into
> hegemony, so that "capital” can be gained through a variety of linguistic
> means.
> I also think that sociolinguists have to take into account what everyday
> people believe about language and what they do as a result of these
> beliefs. This is just as legitimate an area of investigation/concern, as
> is what sociolinguists believe about language. I've been doing work in
> this area of" folklinguistics”, particularly looking at the media in terms
> of how they wrote about the Ebonics resolution and looking at voters in my
> area of California in terms of how they voted on Proposition 227(the Unz
> initiative), why they voted the way the did, what they knew about the
> initiative and bilingual ed before they voted, and what were their sources
> of their information. Through all of this I have been struck by the "gulf"
> between many of the "folk" and sociolinguists. It's not my intention to
> disparage either side- I believe that each side is "legitimate". I
> personally don’t want to be “paternalistic”, but I would like to find ways
> of sharing knowledge that might be empowering to others. One of the things
> I have seen if my folklinguistic research is that in a lot of cases we do
> an absolutely lousy job of talking with the "folk" about language issues
> that are critical in their lives. The contrast between the emotive, value
> laden language of the everyday people I saw in the research I did on
> Ebonics and the neutral, value free language used by many linguists is
> striking. And, what are people to think of "experts" who say ( and this is
> from my data) " It's not for linguists to decide if Ebonics is a language
> or a dialect". While we know what that statement" means", what do we think
> everyday people make of such a statement?
> I don’t have an easy answer to any of this, nor to do I think there is an
> easy answer. .
> Lynn Goldstein
> Professor, TESOL and Applied Linguistics
> The Monterey Institute of International Studies
> lgpolicy-list at writes:
>>Dear Maggie,
>>    I have read all the people you mention - although not the particular
>>piece by Silverstein whom I stay away from if I can help it ( his ideas
>>brilliant; his writing is dreadful).
>>    When I say you can tell Af-Am that AAVE is a wonderful dialect, in
>>ways more expressive (he talking~ he be talking) than standard English, it
>>might "take" with some, but not your ordinary working class, LMC - they
>>simply don't believe it. With good reason, I might add. (For social
>>Only linguists would believe it. Why do I say that. I have tried many,
>>times - I have supervised any numbers of lge attitude studies and it is
>>always the same. Dislike and distrust.
>>    But if you want to read something really great, find Samy Alim's
>>dissertation, defended last spring at Stanford, John Baugh's student. That
>>should make you cheer. But again, that's the students, not the parents.
>>    Please understand, I think AAVE is great, fascinating and intriguing
>>that we have no generally accepted history of its genesis. ALL I object to
>>is pontificating social policies on linguistic grounds and against the
>>community's wishes whether they be Quechua Indians, African-American,
>>Hasidim Jews, etc etc.
>>    And I am fairly well read :-) Christina PS But hang in there
>>>From: Margaret Ronkin <ronkinm at>
>>>To: lgpolicy-list at
>>>Subject: RE: printability and standardization
>>>Date: Sun, Jan 11, 2004, 2:55 PM
>>> Also of possible interest; the first two readings are at an "easier"
>>> than the third.
>>> Lippi-Green, Rosina. 1997. The standard language myth. In English with
>>> accent: language, ideology, and discrimination in the United States.
>>> London: Routledge. Pp. 53-62.
>>> Lippi-Green Rosina. 1997. Language ideology and the language
>>> model. In English with an accent: language, ideology, and
>>discrimination in
>>> the United States. London: Routledge. Pp. 63-78.
>>> Silverstein, Michael. 1996. Monoglot "standard" in America:
>>> and metaphors of linguistic hegemony. In Donald Brenneis and Ronald K.S.
>>> Macaulay, eds. The matrix of language: Contemporary linguistic
>>> anthropology. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Pp. 284-306.
>>> [From a shorter paper, "Standardization and Metaphors of Linguistic
>>> Hegemony", presented at the Annual Meeting of the American
>>> Association, Philadelphia, 6 December 1996.]
>>> -----
>>> --Maggie
>>> ----- Original Message -----
>>> From: Ronald Kephart <rkephart at>
>>> Date: Sunday, January 11, 2004 4:15 pm
>>> Subject: RE: printability and standardization
>>>> At 11:02 AM -0600 1/10/04, Felicia Briscoe wrote:
>>>> >...There also seems to be an underlying assumption in much of the
>>>> >recent writing that
>>>> >bilingualism is either very difficult to attain or that it is
>>>> >someway is detrimental to the person who is bilingual.  I find
>>>> this
>>>> >a very strange assumption. Why can't a person be fully literate
>>>> in
>>>> >AAVE and fully literate in standard English.  Why is it so often
>>>> >posed as an either/or option?
>>>> I think part of the answer lies in what anthropological linguist
>>>> MJ
>>>> Hardman calls our linguistic postulates: specifically, the
>>>> importance
>>>> of singularity. This manifests itself in all sorts of ways not
>>>> only
>>>> within our language but also how we think about language, as well
>>>> as
>>>> more widely: one "right" answer, one god, preference for
>>>> individual
>>>> over collective work, "most valuable players," the totalitarian
>>>> nature of our corporations, even the prescriptive insistence on
>>>> "he"
>>>> rather than "they" as a generic pronoun. And of course, "one
>>>> language."
>>>> See: Hardman, 1978, Linguistic postulates and applied
>>>> anthropological
>>>> linguistics, in Papers on linguistics and child language, edited
>>>> by
>>>> V. Honsa and M.J. Hardman-de-Bautista, 117-36. The Hague: Mouton.
>>>> --
>>>> Ronald Kephart
>>>> Sociology, Anthropology, & Criminal Justice
>>>> University of North Florida

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