The Word on the Street: Fact and Fable about American English

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Plenum Trade, 1998 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 294 pages
3 Reviews
In The Word on the Street, John McWhorter reveals our American English in all its variety, beauty, and expressiveness. Debunking the myth of a "pure" standard English, he considers the speech patterns and accents of many regions and ethnic groups in the U.S. and demonstrates how language evolves. He takes up the tricky question of gender-neutral pronouns. He dares to ask, "Should we translate Shakespeare?" Focusing on whether how our children speak determines how they learn, he presents the controversial Ebonics debate in light of his research on dialects and creoles. The Word on the Street frees us to truly speak our minds. It is John McWhorter's answer to William Safire, transformed here into everybody's Aunt Lucy, who insists on correcting our grammar and making us feel slightly embarrassed about our everyday use of the language. ("To whom, " she will insist, and "don't split your infinitives!") He reminds us that we'd better accept the fact that language is always changing - not only slang, but sound, syntax, and words' meanings - and get on with the business of communicating effectively with one another.

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Review: Word On The Street: Debunking The Myth Of A Pure Standard English

User Review  - John - Goodreads

Very, very good, but I got sidetracked and had to send it back. I do like Mr. (Dr?) McWhorter's style of writing though - very good blend of linguistic scholarship and popular understanding. I will ... Read full review

Review: Word On The Street: Debunking The Myth Of A Pure Standard English

User Review  - Ed - Goodreads

Very thought provoking. I never thought about English this way and I liked the detailed refutation of treating Black English as just another variation of English. I read this a little bit every day over breakfast. It was a great way to start the day. Read full review


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About the author (1998)

John McWhorter, associate professor of linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, is the author of "The Word on the Street." He lives in Oakland, California.

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