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

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Basic Books, Jan 25, 2001 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 294 pages
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Though there is a contingent of linguists who fight the fact, our language is always changing--not only through slang, but sound, syntax, and words' meanings as well. Debunking the myth of "pure" standard English, tackling controversial positions, and eschewing politically correct arguments, linguist John McWhorter considers speech patterns and regional accents to demonstrate just how the changes do occur. Wielding reason and humor, McWhorter ultimately explains why we must embrace these changes, ultimately revealing our American English in all its variety, expressiveness, and power.
 

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The word on the street: fact and fable about American English

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In the first section of this enlightening book, McWhorter (linguistics, Berkeley) examines language as "a system that is at all times on its way to changing into a different one." Not only are new ... Read full review

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I learned a lot, most importantly the attitude of appreciation for this wonderful human invention of language.

Contents

Introduction
1
Language A Living Organism
5
The Heart of the Matter Lava Lamps and Language
7
Natural Seasonings The Linguistic Melting Pot
35
Leave Your Language Alone The Speech Error Hoax
61
In Centenary Honor of Mark H Liddell The Shakespearean Tragedy
87
Missing the Nose on Our Face Pronouns and the Feminist Revolution
117
Black English Is You Is or Is You Aint a Language?
127
An African Language in North Philadelphia? Black English and the Mother Continent
155
Dialect in the Headlines Black English in the Classroom?
201
As We Travel On
263
Sources
273
Acknowledgments
283
Index
285
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About the author (2001)

John McWhorter is Assistant Professor of Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. A specialist in pidgin and Creole languages, he lives in Oakland, California.

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