[lg policy] Re: Christina Paulston

Christina Paulston paulston at PITT.EDU
Sat Aug 20 17:30:38 UTC 2011

	A million apologies, no I didn't realize it was a quotation from  
Lindsay Johns (who he?)  and I was sad to see the quotation under your  
name.  One of my students e-mailed me to set me straight.  If it can  
be done.
I am so sorry  -- I really should have known better.  It is an issue I  
have fought against all my life, especially in my many teacher  
training courses ( yes, I know that one should call them tchr  
education courses or similar).  My own son - in third grade -- came  
home and said "ain' t" was not a word,
	Again, I am so sorry. Christina

On Aug 19, 2011, at 11:56 PM, Gareth Price wrote:

> Christina,
> I'm shocked and disturbed that you actively support this clear
> linguistic decline and breakdown of the moral fabric of society and
> politics and the whole human race and so on. I mean, as Maggie
> Thatcher's fascist little henchman Norman Tebbit said, in 1985:
> 'If you allow standards to slip to the stage where good English is no
> better than bad English, where
> people turn up filthy … at school … all those things tend to cause
> people to have no standards at all,
> and once you lose standards there’s no imperative to stay out of  
> crime.'
> Clearly, if Norman Tebbit agrees with it, and the right-wing columnist
> Lindsay Johns agrees, it then it *must* be true. To hell with us
> linguists, and our PhDs, and research, and reading books.
> David Starkey, the British historian (specialising in Tudor history)
> who invoked Enoch Powell this week on BBC Question Time, had similar
> things to say about the spread of 'patios' and how 'chavs' were
> becoming black. He must have been horrified that 'patois' was turning
> the white underclass into not just white but black 'chavs', a word
> that had intiially racist connotations against the UK traveling
> community (from the Romani 'charver', or kids') but has since become
> acceptable as a term of abuse *not* on racial terms, but on class
> terms, since whoever is using the term 'chav' is referring to anyone
> more socio-economically marginalised than the person using the term.
> I jest, of course.
> Apologies if I didn't qualify my link to Lindsay John's spiteful and
> inaccurate column (and the quote I used from his column is about the
> level he's operating at) with a comment along the lines of 'Lindsay
> John's column is spurious bile'. I was busy penning a letter to him
> about the linguistic, sociological and cultural misinformation he
> bandies around, unqualified, in his horrible little rant, which
> effectively wheels out *all* the criticisms (long, long ago countered
> by Labov etc. etc.) that double negatives are illogical, and that
> 'aks' is a new form (it's not - it appears in Old and Middle English
> dialects; and it appears still (I think, though I'll have to check, in
> Manchester and Newcastle dialects, and is a historical artefact).
> The hyper-contraction 'Innit', by the way, was common (among white
> kids) in the British Midlands when I was in school in the early 1990s.
> Which blows Lindsay Johns' silly little diatribe out of the window, as
> well as challenging some of Kerswill et al's explanations for the
> spread of Multi-Cultural London English.
> Most hilariously naive claim in this article? 'None of my mentees were
> involved in the disturbances.' Course not, John. I mean Lindsay. Not
> only is he either naive, willfully or otherwise, but the use of the
> neologism 'mentees' is kind of telling: it's OK for language to change
> when it is driven by standard English speakers, but not by the lower
> classes.
> Anyone want to sign on to a ripost to Lyndsay John on the letters page
> of the Evening Standard? I for one believe this is nonsense up with
> which I will not put.
> :)
> Gareth
> Gareth,
> 	I don't think I would make it so obvious to everyone on this list
> that you lack an understanding of linguistics.  Not to bore everyone,
> one example will suffice, I don't think the French would quite
> understand what you mean by tedious double negatives., n'est-ce pas?
> Or if it comes to that,  English speakers: " It is not for nothing
> Chomsky does not pay taxes"  was a popular counterexample during the
> Vietnamese war.  And why is "innit" vacuous, it packs in one word the
> meaning of three, "is it not" - surely the very opposite of vacuous.?
> Etc.  And metathesis with  words like ask has been around for a very
> long time -- it is not increasingly fashionable.
> 	Gareth, it is wonderful that you mentor young people but don't
> belittle them for the way they speak.  They learned it from their
> family and friends --  you really want to tell them that they are
> squandering the glory that was England by the way they speak ?
> Christina
> -- 
> Dr. Gareth Price
> Visiting Assistant Professor
> Department of Slavic and Eurasian Studies
> 316 Languages Building, Box 90259
> Duke University
> Durham, NC 27708-0259
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