Sounds like Greek to me

Anthea Fraser Gupta A.F.Gupta at
Sat Dec 13 12:27:10 UTC 2008

>I especially hope you'll share whatever you discover about folk views of

You might also look at some of the truly bizarre ideas about US English that can be found in the UK and that we have to correct in our students. Such as (not all of these are compatible, of course) ....
1. Many of them have read 'Beloved' as part of the school syllabus. Some of them think that this is standard American English. Others think that it is what Black Americans write because they can't get Standard right. Oh dear.
2. 'Standard English' is only found in Britain (at one point this was the definition on the school syllabus for England and Wales!).
3. American Standard English is VERY different from British Standard English (NB (1)). I counter this by referring to whatever are popular US TV programmes (CSI, Friends, Sex and the City. The Wire). Some students believe that these have been adapted for international distribution because they believe that they are not in American English (as they are so similar to BrE and as they can understand them so easily).
4. US spelling is very different from British spelling, e.g. nite, thru, gonna. It is hard to convince them that these are informal spellings all over the world.
5. Americans have a strong drawl and speak nasally.
6. Texas is the typically US accent.
7. All Afro-Americans speak AAVE all the time (see (1)). The new president may change this one. We are planning on setting assignments comparing his style with his predecessor's!

*     *     *     *     * 
Anthea Fraser Gupta (Dr) 
School of English, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT <> 
NB: Reply to a.f.gupta at 
*     *     *     *     * 


From: owner-lgpolicy-list at on behalf of Lynn Goldstein
Sent: Sat 13/12/2008 00:50
To: lgpolicy-list at
Cc: lgpolicy-list at
Subject: Re: Sounds like Greek to me

lgpolicy-list at writes:
>On 12/12/08 2:02 PM, "Lynn Goldstein" <lgoldstein at> wrote:
>> I am quite interested in folk linguistics and  I strongly believe that
>> these types of statements and beliefs , while subjective, have great
>> linguistic/scientific merit. Understanding and describing people's folk
>> views  should be an essential part of linguistics.
>Yes, I was unclear. I didn't mean that the attitudes and evaluations of
>language don't have merit as objects of study in and of themselves. I only
>meant that they do not have merit as scientific evaluations of language.
>I do think that it's important that our students know this. I teach an
>class for mostly English Lit and Ed majors, and I spend a lot of time on
>this issue.

Below I've pasted in a chart from one of my presentations I did on the
Oakland Tribune's coverage ( I didn't  want to send an attachment to the
list but would be happy to send the WORD document to you directly if you
would like).    In this  part of the study I was looking at how different
groups described  AAVE and its history( the descriptors were taken   from
quotes and paraphrases in the Oakland Tribune starting from  when the
media began reporting the Oakland Ebonics Resolution and going for a full
year after).






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