Bad Language: Are Some Words Better Than Others?
Is today's language at an all-time low? Are pronunciations like cawfee and chawklit bad English? Is slang like my bad or hook up improper? Is it incorrect to mix English and Spanish, as in Yo quiero Taco Bell? Can you write Who do you trust? rather than Whom do you trust? Linguist Edwin Battistella takes a hard look at traditional notions of bad language, arguing that they are often based in sterile conventionality. Examining grammar and style, cursing, slang, and political correctness, regional and ethnic dialects, and foreign accents and language mixing, Battistella discusses the strong feelings evoked by language variation, from objections to the pronunciation NU-cu-lar to complaints about bilingual education. He explains the natural desire for uniformity in writing and speaking and traces the association of mainstream norms to ideas about refinement, intelligence, education, character, national unity and political values. Battistella argues that none of these qualities is inherently connected to language. It is tempting but wrong, Battistella argues, to think of slang, dialects and nonstandard grammar as simply breaking the rules of good English. Instead, we should view language as made up of alternative forms of orderliness adopted by speakers depending on their purpose. Thus we can study the structure and context of nonstandard language in order to illuminate and enrich traditional forms of language, and make policy decisions based on an informed engagement. Re-examining longstanding and heated debates, Bad Language will appeal to a wide spectrum of readers engaged and interested in the debate over what constitutes proper language.
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What constitutes "bad" language? Is it slang? Curse words? In this academic volume, Battistella, a professor of English, examines language's relationship to social conditions and constraints and ... Read full review
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accent accent reduction African-American English African-American vernacular Ain’t American English American language argued assimilation attitudes bad English bad language Barzun bilingual education Black English canon Carl Rowan characterized cited coarse language communication Court critics cultural cursing David Foster Wallace deaf descriptive linguistics developed dialects Dictionary discussion Ebonics economic English Language English-only essay ethnic example focus focused foreign languages Geoffrey Nunberg George Perkins Marsh glish groups guage idea immigrants issue Jacques Barzun John Krapp linguistic literary mainstream means metaphor Native American nonnative nonstandard language norms notes object offensive language one’s political correctness prescriptive prescriptive grammar prescriptivism prescriptivists programs pronoun pronunciation reflect regional relativism rhetorical rules sentence Simon slang social society speak speakers Standard English standard language style suggests swearing talk teachers teaching television tion traditional grammar University Press variation vocabulary Webster’s William words writing York