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 Post subject: Re: Grammar and a Culture of Ignorance
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 11:20 am 
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Olives wrote:
His points about pronunciation in no way support his (very much buried) thesis. There are regional differences in pronunciation. Always have been, probably always will be. Just because he accustomed to a certain pronunciation, or perceives it as being older, does not mean that it is better.


exactly; he's not making his stated point at all. if you want to have a discussion about education or intelligence, don't pick a fight about dialect. i want english to be "correct"-- and i make a living correcting it--but it should be obvious that pronunciation and usage are different things. i doubt any kids anywhere are being taught to write "git" instead of "get." i mean, it's wrong on all sides of the aisle; deliberate injections of idiomatic folksiness designed to make northeastern liberals seem like stuffy fops are their own brand of xenophobia. i think when he says "republicans" are using certain modes of speech to corral their base, he's assuming that we all agree that people who sound like us (whoever we are) are easier to trust, and that we'll always want to side with them. but that's a cultural problem, or a neurological problem, or something; it isn't a political problem at its root, and even if it carries over into the classroom, it's hard to say that it's a problem with the education system. it's a people problem.

Olives wrote:
Can I also point out that arguably, some of the best US writers come from the south?


and they employ local speech patterns without coming across as condescending or making the characters seem ignorant! and they have my heart.

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar and a Culture of Ignorance
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 11:35 am 
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I don't think the article is primarily targeting republicans use of folksy speech to sound like the people--it's arguing that republicans want the people to be dumb, see education policies, and unable to think critically, and the way you can tell it's working is that, "we're all hillbillies now" making language errors that used to be only made by "those people." It's incredibly othering, from the title and picture right on through.
And I didn't see any point where he addresses the points we all might agree on--the need to have access to a standard formal language, the need to be able to express yourself in writing--half the article focused on pronounciations he hears as ignorant because of their association with "southern crackers."
I don't see how that's ok, and it tells me a lot more about the author's biases than republicans.


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 Post subject: Re: Grammar and a Culture of Ignorance
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 12:09 pm 
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Argh... Not to dwell on this, but I keep thinking about it:
As a person who makes her living writing, I do tend to be crotchety about clarity and accuracy in published writing. Hard and fast language rules should be those that create greater clarity, rather than EB White's (bless him) pet peeves.

If you use the standard that clear communication trumps everything else, the rickety structure of this story is a far worse crime than lay/lie me/l. It lacks a cohesive argument, which is pretty funny since he seems to be saying that poor language skills are a symptom of declining critical reasoning.


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 Post subject: Re: Grammar and a Culture of Ignorance
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 12:16 pm 
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Obligatory Comment from the Linguistics Bebackgrounded:

Knowing when to say whom and refraining from saying Me and Purcell picketed the taxidermist, for instance, might be a matter of "proper," "standard," or "formal" language use, but there's no non-arbitrary sense in which those forms are wrong. I don't even think "wrong" means anything in contexts like that. There's nothing inherently better (or even good) about maintaining a case distinction in pronouns or never using the it-looks-like-the-accusative "me" in a conjoined subject. (French people have no problem saying and understanding C'est moi. Indeed, C'est je would look deranged. Here's an article about this I won't pretend to have read.)

Many of the "rules" for "correct" speech are completely arbitrary. (Injunctions against split infinitives, so-called double negatives—which don't seem to trouble Russians, among others—and so on.) In some cases, they can be traced to the pronouncements of specific, identifiable people. People who just made shiitake up and it became entrenched and/or gathered momentum, whichever metaphor you prefer.

I think the point is that, while the various gatekeepers—the scholars, academics, editors, and so on—can maintain a particular standard (a standard that I too recognize as indicating education, training, culture, etc.), there is nothing especially rational, logical, or intrinsically lovelier about it. "Ain't no reason for nobody to get all het up" isn't formal, proper, or standard, but there's nothing inherently bad about it. If there weren't institutions and traditions upholding a different standard, no one would know it was "wrong."

If history had worked out differently, we people who don't say "ain't" would be on the losing end, speaking an "obviously" inferior variety of English.

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar and a Culture of Ignorance
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 12:54 pm 
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Aside from the continuous, jarring irritation of listening to these and countless other grammatical distortions, all of which would have made Miss Dippel, my 5th grade teacher, tighten her nostrils in disapproval, my over-sensitive ears are also pained by the widespread pronunciation of many, many words in a manner formerly employed only in… the Southern states


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And, when did people stop saying “get” and start saying “git?”


Quote:
Yes, but language also molds thought. If we’re all becoming Southern Crackers, we’ll think the way they do, won’t we?

Like Republicans do.

There it is, you see. Republicans don’t care for education or educated people.

They’re anti-teacher, as anyone following the political news knows. They always have been, but now they’re ever so much more so


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They don’t want critical thinking– who then would vote Republican?


Because when you talk like a stupid, Southern Cracker, you are against critical thinking, anti-teacher, don't care for education, are automatically Republican...

Let's list all of the stereotypes for people who speak with other regional dialects! I bet we can come up with some winners. Again, if you can't write the article without attacking an entire region and economic class of people, don't write. It's an offensive article. Full stop. It's as offensive as it would be if it were full or racism, sexism, or homophobia.

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar and a Culture of Ignorance
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 1:14 pm 
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I'm pretty sure that perpetuatin' a bunch of classist stereotypes and ideals is the hallmark of critical thinking.

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar and a Culture of Ignorance
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 2:35 pm 
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pandacookie wrote:
You are looking at an arbitrary set of "correct" grammar rules that you yourself think means "education" and "opportunity" and want to apply it across the board. Intelligence has little to do with someone's grammar skills.
Who ever said that it did? The fact - whether or not we approve of it - is that it is often perceived that way.
pandacookie wrote:
And the idea of having the appropriate grammar tools at hand when needed is mostly funny.
And it's even funnier that most employers and college admissions committees don't agree with you at all! Oh, wait. No, it isn't.
pandacookie wrote:
People may not sound the way you want them to when speaking but that doesn't mean they are incapable of communicating....despite the fact that they aren't using your desired grammar rules.
While I'm sort of flattered that you imagine that I own (or maybe invented?) English grammar and rules of usage, I don't wield that kind of power or influence. All I did was go to public schools, where I simply learned and internalized them like millions of other people before and after me.
pandacookie wrote:
It's interesting that you think people need to be molded to fit the system rather than that the system needs to be changed.
It's interesting that you find it interesting. So what's the upshot? It makes no difference whether I think the system needs to be changed - the fact is that it exists, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. I'm sure that all the intelligent people who miss opportunities because smart liberals like us decided they shouldn't have to learn standard English will be happy to continue earning minimum wage while the system is waiting to be changed (and the people who interview and fill out applications well get better jobs).
just mumbles wrote:
Desdemona wrote:
While I agree that the use of term "hillbilly" is double-plus-uncool, the fact remains that correct - yes, I did say "correct" - grammar and usage are important, and all the willfully disingenuous More PC Than Thou pissing contests in the world [...]

What is the difference between prescriptive grammatical correctness and political correctness?

Certainly, being PC is also an important workplace requirement in much of the world. Why champion the former while rejecting, or merely tolerating, the latter?

They strike me as being essentially similar kinds of correctness.
My point was meant to be that it's pretty disingenuous for educated middle-class liberals (like myself, and I daresay I'm not the only person on this board who meets that description) to stomp our feet about how much we deplore the system of which many of us are ourselves a product, and from which we often derive much of the privilege we're so anxious to deride and distance ourselves from.

In any case, no minds will be changed by this conversation; I just had the incomprehensible urge to reiterate what I have already said in the past, to much the same reception. Those who disagree will continue to do so, and I will continue to take points off for comma splices - thereby hastening the destruction of all that is good and right in the universe.

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Last edited by Desdemona on Mon Aug 27, 2012 2:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar and a Culture of Ignorance
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 2:40 pm 
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It's interesting because you've made a lot of classist remarks and reinforce it here. I'm sure my comma splices will weep.

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar and a Culture of Ignorance
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 2:50 pm 
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pandacookie wrote:
It's interesting because you've made a lot of classist remarks and reinforce it here. I'm sure my comma splices will weep.
UGH. For the record, I come from a working class background, and neither of my parents went to college. They did, however, read a lot, and placed a high value on education as a means for their children to have better lives. My father's parents were Greek immigrants, and that was his first language, but he learned to speak and write standard English because it helped him to a better life than his parents. When did education for all classes as a means to broader opportunities become such a heinous and objectionable (even oppressive) concept? If that's the direction things are going, it's small wonder that the rest of the world increasingly thinks this country is filled with fundamentally incurious, provincial idiots.

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar and a Culture of Ignorance
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 2:53 pm 
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Desdemona wrote:
My point was meant to be that it's pretty disingenuous for educated middle-class liberals (like myself, and I daresay I'm not the only person on this board who meets that description) to stomp our feet about how much we deplore the system of which many of us are ourselves a product, and from which we often derive much of the privilege we're so anxious to deride

I don't see what's disingenuous about that. I mean, I knew a white South African exchange student in high school who opposed apartheid. She deplored the system of which she was a product, from which she derived her privilege. I don't think I would have described her as disingenuous.

Quote:
In any case, no minds will be changed by this conversation; I just had the incomprehensible urge to reiterate what I have already said in the past, to much the same reception. Those who disagree will continue to do so, and I will continue to take points off for comma splices - thereby hastening the destruction of all that is good and right in the universe.

Some minds might be changed. Debate is mostly for the benefit of the audience.

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar and a Culture of Ignorance
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 2:57 pm 
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I'm happy to report that I think I disagree with people on both sides of this. Or, wait, maybe I agree with both sides.

There is indeed a standard (or maybe a set of standards) that, to some segments of the population, indicates all kinds of desirable things. Adherence to this system operates as a key into all kinds of opportunities.

The standard that exists is important only by consent of the governed. Or the, um... standardized. In the same way that our culture got to the point—however it got there—that it's "proper" for men to wear ties, it's "proper" to speak and write a certain way. There is nothing inherently better or more rational about it. The standard exists only by a quirk of history.

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar and a Culture of Ignorance
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:02 pm 
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just mumbles wrote:
Desdemona wrote:
My point was meant to be that it's pretty disingenuous for educated middle-class liberals (like myself, and I daresay I'm not the only person on this board who meets that description) to stomp our feet about how much we deplore the system of which many of us are ourselves a product, and from which we often derive much of the privilege we're so anxious to deride

I don't see what's disingenuous about that. I mean, I knew a white South African exchange student in high school who opposed apartheid. She deplored the system of which she was a product, from which she derived her privilege. I don't think I would have described her as disingenuous.
Are we actually going to compare English grammar to apartheid? Because I'm so not doing that. Anyway, I'm obviously not expressing myself well. Nevermind.
Desdemona wrote:
In any case, no minds will be changed by this conversation; I just had the incomprehensible urge to reiterate what I have already said in the past, to much the same reception. Those who disagree will continue to do so, and I will continue to take points off for comma splices - thereby hastening the destruction of all that is good and right in the universe.
just mumbles wrote:
Some minds might be changed. Debate is mostly for the benefit of the audience.
Nah - people who cling to comma splices are pretty intractable - from their cold, dead hands!

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar and a Culture of Ignorance
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:06 pm 
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the fork is a comma splice?

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar and a Culture of Ignorance
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:06 pm 
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I think the comma splice-type arguments are different. It's not that the kids (and adults!) who can't write well learned a different system. They just never learned. Writing is an acquired, learned set of skills. It's very different from speaking and understanding language. The comma splicers aren't, I don't think, merely products of a different, equally legitimate tradition, one that conceives of commas differently.

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar and a Culture of Ignorance
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:08 pm 
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interrobang?! wrote:
the fork is a comma splice?


The joining (or splicing) of two independent clauses by a comma.

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar and a Culture of Ignorance
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:10 pm 
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interrobang?! wrote:
the fork is a comma splice?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comma_splice
FootFace wrote:
I think the comma splice-type arguments are different. It's not that the kids (and adults!) who can't write well learned a different system. They just never learned. Writing is an acquired, learned set of skills. It's very different from speaking and understanding language. The comma splicers aren't, I don't think, merely products of a different, equally legitimate tradition, one that conceives of commas differently.
Good point. To be perfectly honest, the comma splice was a deliberately snarky choice; it was either that or dangling modifier, but I figured that would just devolve into a conversation about balls. (Which I now wish it had - ah, the road not taken!)

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Last edited by Desdemona on Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar and a Culture of Ignorance
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:13 pm 
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Desdemona wrote:
Are we actually going to compare English grammar to apartheid? Because I'm so not doing that.

It's not a comparison. I'm applying the same argument to a different set of circumstances. I don't see how the relative seriousness of apartheid or prescriptive grammar could have any bearing on disingenuousness.

Desdemona wrote:
Nah - people who cling to comma splices are pretty intractable - from their cold, dead hands!

I can almost guarantee that in a room full of twenty people anywhere outside of an English department, twenty of them absolutely do not give a crepe about comma splices one way or the other.

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar and a Culture of Ignorance
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:14 pm 
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FootFace wrote:
interrobang?! wrote:
the fork is a comma splice?


The joining (or splicing) of two independent clauses by a comma.


the boring clauses, not the ones that bring presents.

Was that a comma splice?


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 Post subject: Re: Grammar and a Culture of Ignorance
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:15 pm 
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just mumbles wrote:
Some minds might be changed. Debate is mostly for the benefit of the audience.
Desdemona wrote:
Nah - people who cling to comma splices are pretty intractable - from their cold, dead hands!

just mumbles wrote:
I can almost guarantee that in a room full of twenty people anywhere outside of an English department, twenty of them absolutely do not give a crepe about comma splices one way or the other.
That was a joke, son.
Image

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Last edited by Desdemona on Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar and a Culture of Ignorance
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:16 pm 
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The fork are two independent clauses? Or clauses, even? I'm not even being silly on purpose. I have no clue. Apparently Scottish education fell by the wayside post-Enlightenment. And there's me with an English Lit degree.

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar and a Culture of Ignorance
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:21 pm 
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interrobang?! wrote:
The fork are two independent clauses? Or clauses, even? I'm not even being silly on purpose. I have no clue. Apparently Scottish education fell by the wayside post-Enlightenment. And there's me with an English Lit degree.


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 Post subject: Re: Grammar and a Culture of Ignorance
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:25 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Grammar and a Culture of Ignorance
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:26 pm 
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interrobang?! wrote:
The fork are two independent clauses? Or clauses, even? I'm not even being silly on purpose. I have no clue. Apparently Scottish education fell by the wayside post-Enlightenment. And there's me with an English Lit degree.
Wikipedia gives this example: "It is nearly half past five, we cannot reach town before dark." "It is nearly half past five" is an independent clause because it can stand alone; the same applies to "we cannot reach town before dark." Strictly speaking, the two should either be separate sentences, or be joined by a conjunction like "and" or "but" (or a semi-colon) rather than a comma. It's just one of those peevy rules that some people get totally bent about - as noted, I mentioned it as a joke. Sheesh!

Anyway, the aggravation to entertainment ratio has shifted in such a way that this is no longer a desirable form of procrastination; I'm going to go roast some corn instead.

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar and a Culture of Ignorance
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:28 pm 
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Again, the issue of how the article presented it's argument and the inherent classism and regional bias contained within is separate from the argument about grammar and rules of language.

I find it completely impossible to believe that in casual conversation, people have not always used a more informal form of language than in formal writing. The problem might be that the casual form, because it has been shifted for use in electronic communication has bled into formal writing.

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar and a Culture of Ignorance
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:29 pm 
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I should also note that I know many software engineers with a tenuous grasp of written English who make 10X what I do.

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