Grammar Matters: The Social Significance of How We Use Language (Semaphore)

Grammar Matters: The Social Significance of How We Use Language - Jila Ghomeshi You can't go into a moderately populated comm on LiveJournal and accidentally type "your" instead of "you're" without having someone point out the error, often with an accompanying apology that "it's a twitch for me". Of course, this implies that if you don't similarly twitch at every deviation from Standard English, you have failed the princess-and-pea test of spelling and grammar. I've similarly been lectured at my place of employment for answering the question "How are you?" with "I'm good" instead of "I'm well". Linguists would point out that both "I'm good" and "I'm well" are answers to "How are you?" They might indicate that one occurs more often than the other (either in general use or in certain situations). They would not indicate that one is more correct than the other, as to do so would take them from descriptivism to prescriptivism. Prescriptivists are those who criticize language they qualify as "incorrect" or, more specifically "inferior". Their qualifications can range from pronunciation and accents, through spelling, all the way to languages themselves. (I've learned from this book that when I speak French, because I trill my 'r's rather than rolling them in the back of the throat, I may find my accent stigmatized in Qu├ębec.) Ghomeshi does not recommend a free-for-all when it comes to language, but rather recognizing Standard English as a lingua franca, with other dialects providing creativity and innovation -- the fluidity that any real lingua franca needs. In truth, fluency in Ebonics/AAVE (or for that matter, netspeak) is not mutually exclusive with fluency in Standard English. If we keep ourselves aware of this, our ability to communicate globally will only grow as a result.