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 Post subject: Literary Privilege: Better than I Could Say It
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 11:35 am 
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http://paintingthegreyarea.wordpress.co ... privilege/

Generally, I tend to find the endless privilege decrying that we educated progressive folks tend to engage in a rather tedious and privileged form of expression in itself, but this article is quite good. Don't be a grammar dick.

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 Post subject: Re: Literary Privilege: Better than I Could Say It
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 11:54 am 
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Thank you for posting this. I used to be a terrible grammar snob (even though I'm not all that good at it compared to some) and it took me a long time to realize that no one likes you when you're correcting them all the time. This article makes an even better point about why we shouldn't go around correcting others. I will try to be even more conscious of it from now on.

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 Post subject: Re: Literary Privilege: Better than I Could Say It
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 12:20 pm 
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For one thing, the idea that there is only one right way of doing English – and everyone else is doing it wrong – is inherently flawed. And by “flawed” I mean illogical, elitist and even oppressive.


So my high school English teacher was oppressing me? Really? As someone who moved to the U.S. as a teenager and had terrible written English skills I owe a great deal to people who focused on the correct use of English. I still struggle with it at times, but I have no issue admitting that at times I am just plain *wrong* in my grammar, punctuation, and pronunciation.

That said, I agree that it's both mean and pointless to point out grammar flaws online, but I take real issue with the language used in this piece.


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 Post subject: Re: Literary Privilege: Better than I Could Say It
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 12:27 pm 
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I really liked that article. I've always been interested in linguistics, so even though my first response is often to cringe when someone uses the wrong "your" or "to", I try to remember that language is always evolving, so it's really non-standard English, not incorrect English.


Edited for poor spelling. Ha.

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 Post subject: Re: Literary Privilege: Better than I Could Say It
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 12:58 pm 
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I didn't read the article, but an actual English teacher/professor correcting must be exempt, right?

I could be a grammar snob if I cared enough, but I don't anymore. I have students with widely varying written English ability levels. Some should know better, but don't punctuate or capitalize because they are lazy and turn their grammar on or off like a light switch. They annoy me. I believe that quite a few people fall into this category, but we can't go around judging who does. And besides, what difference does it make (outside the classroom)? Unless they are putting up a sign somewhere, let it go.

For the students who struggle, I am teaching science, not English or ELL, so I only correct errors that get in the way of the science part. If I see a repeated error across many papers, I will find a way to help them. For my GED students, I start with the big things and gradually get more nitpicky. I don't want to frustrate them, but I have to teach them proper grammar and prepare them to pass the test. What I do not do is cover an essay in a sea of red ink that flashes "You suck!"

I used to know a chem teacher who would take off for spelling and grammar and who knows what. I thought she was a total bisque. Great way to shut down students who struggle with language but can do mol calculations in their sleep.

But, please, please, please, somebody make the plural apostrophe crepe that has taken over the Internet go away.

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 Post subject: Re: Literary Privilege: Better than I Could Say It
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 1:19 pm 
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Disappearing Ink wrote:
I really liked that article. I've always been interested in linguistics, so even though my first response is often to cringe when someone uses the wrong "your" or "to", I try to remember that language is always evolving, so it's really non-standard English, not incorrect English.


No. Until English classes teach it the other way, it's wrong.

It may be an accepted use, and you may know what the person means, but it's still wrong.

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 Post subject: Re: Literary Privilege: Better than I Could Say It
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 1:33 pm 
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oh, goodie! this debate again! this was my favorite.

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 Post subject: Re: Literary Privilege: Better than I Could Say It
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 2:53 pm 
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acr wrote:
oh, goodie! this debate again! this was my favorite.


I think I'm going to, for the first time in like 4 years, log out of the PPK and take the weekend off.

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 Post subject: Re: Literary Privilege: Better than I Could Say It
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 3:01 pm 
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Thessaly wrote:
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For one thing, the idea that there is only one right way of doing English – and everyone else is doing it wrong – is inherently flawed. And by “flawed” I mean illogical, elitist and even oppressive.


So my high school English teacher was oppressing me? Really? As someone who moved to the U.S. as a teenager and had terrible written English skills I owe a great deal to people who focused on the correct use of English. I still struggle with it at times, but I have no issue admitting that at times I am just plain *wrong* in my grammar, punctuation, and pronunciation.

That said, I agree that it's both mean and pointless to point out grammar flaws online, but I take real issue with the language used in this piece.


I feel that as an ESL learner, learning what "ain't" or "your funny" or "who could of known" mean is part of learning English, ie learning to understand and communicate with English native speakers, even if these forms are non standard. AND it's about learning to use the right register of language for the right context, and that's not always textbook perfect Oxford English.


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 Post subject: Re: Literary Privilege: Better than I Could Say It
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 3:12 pm 
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I just wish that we could keep the response vaguely proportionate to the initial offense. I don't think there is anything wrong with pointing something out in the spirit of educating someone - I, for one, am always learning. But sometimes the response is more about making someone else wrong and being right than it is educational, and I find that gets unkind quickly.

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 Post subject: Re: Literary Privilege: Better than I Could Say It
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 3:31 pm 
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paprikapapaya wrote:
acr wrote:
oh, goodie! this debate again! this was my favorite.
I think I'm going to, for the first time in like 4 years, log out of the PPK and take the weekend off.
Word. (For the record, that would be a word that has been used correctly and spelled properly.)

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 Post subject: Re: Literary Privilege: Better than I Could Say It
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 3:45 pm 
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Thessaly wrote:
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For one thing, the idea that there is only one right way of doing English – and everyone else is doing it wrong – is inherently flawed. And by “flawed” I mean illogical, elitist and even oppressive.


So my high school English teacher was oppressing me? Really? As someone who moved to the U.S. as a teenager and had terrible written English skills I owe a great deal to people who focused on the correct use of English. I still struggle with it at times, but I have no issue admitting that at times I am just plain *wrong* in my grammar, punctuation, and pronunciation.

That said, I agree that it's both mean and pointless to point out grammar flaws online, but I take real issue with the language used in this piece.

I think there's a difference between pointing out errors and rules in the interest of teaching someone the skills to read and write in a standard way and being a dick about grammar to complete strangers. This article is about the latter, isn't it?

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 Post subject: Re: Literary Privilege: Better than I Could Say It
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 4:11 pm 
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kilgore trout wrote:
I think there's a difference between pointing out errors and rules in the interest of teaching someone the skills to read and write in a standard way and being a dick about grammar to complete strangers. This article is about the latter, isn't it?


That's also what I took out of it.

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 Post subject: Re: Literary Privilege: Better than I Could Say It
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 5:50 pm 
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There's also a big difference between these two statements:

1) "Ain't" isn't a real word so it's wrong to use it.

2) "Your" is not a proper contraction of "you are."

1) comes from the illusion that there is one grammatical, logical, natural, "good" form of English, and that speaking a nonstandard variety of English is evidence of an inferior mind. This is wrong.

2) is a statement about convention. It is factually correct that the contraction of "you are" is spelled "you're." Pointing it out can be rude and irritating, but it's still true. There is no natural dialect of English that calls for the "your" contraction to be spelled y-o-u-r. It is a mistake. Not a serious mistake (it's only spelling, after all), and the spelling might change one day. But for now it's a mistake.

"Ain't nobody here" is not a 2-style "mistake." It's a perfectly well-formed sentence, just not a perfectly well-formed sentence of standard English. Then again, "Nyet nikovo zdyes" isn't well-formed standard English, either. But it's perfectly well-formed Russian. (Unless it's not, but you get the point.)

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 Post subject: Re: Literary Privilege: Better than I Could Say It
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 6:00 pm 
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FootFace wrote:
There's also a big difference between these two statements:

1) "Ain't" isn't a real word so it's wrong to use it.

2) "Your" is not a proper contraction of "you are."

1) comes from the illusion that there is one grammatical, logical, natural, "good" form of English, and that speaking a nonstandard variety of English is evidence of an inferior mind. This is wrong.

2) is a statement about convention. It is factually correct that the contraction of "you are" is spelled "you're." Pointing it out can be rude and irritating, but it's still true. There is no natural dialect of English that calls for the "your" contraction to be spelled y-o-u-r. It is a mistake. Not a serious mistake (it's only spelling, after all), and the spelling might change one day. But for now it's a mistake.

"Ain't nobody here" is not a 2-style "mistake." It's a perfectly well-formed sentence, just not a perfectly well-formed sentence of standard English. Then again, "Nyet nikovo zdyes" isn't well-formed standard English, either. But it's perfectly well-formed Russian. (Unless it's not, but you get the point.)


The best thing about these threads is Footie's wordnerd essays.

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 Post subject: Re: Literary Privilege: Better than I Could Say It
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 6:27 pm 
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solipsistnation wrote:
kilgore trout wrote:
I think there's a difference between pointing out errors and rules in the interest of teaching someone the skills to read and write in a standard way and being a dick about grammar to complete strangers. This article is about the latter, isn't it?


That's also what I took out of it.


I admit that that's maybe the intent, but the statements made in the article are substantially broader than that. The portion I quoted earlier reads like a flat out rejection of any standards for the English language.


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 Post subject: Re: Literary Privilege: Better than I Could Say It
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 6:57 pm 
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Thessaly wrote:
solipsistnation wrote:
kilgore trout wrote:
I think there's a difference between pointing out errors and rules in the interest of teaching someone the skills to read and write in a standard way and being a dick about grammar to complete strangers. This article is about the latter, isn't it?


That's also what I took out of it.


I admit that that's maybe the intent, but the statements made in the article are substantially broader than that. The portion I quoted earlier reads like a flat out rejection of any standards for the English language.

I don't really think so. This article seems to me to be concerned less with the concept of error, and more with the values we assign to those errors; i.e., anyone who uses the wrong they're/there/their is a dunce, and anyone who can spot the error is better than that person because they're right. In context, I think the paragraph you quoted from has more to do with being aware of where our standards for English come from than actually rejecting those standards out of hand. The writer says her job is to teach literacy skills to adults; I assume this means she teaches them standard English.

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 Post subject: Re: Literary Privilege: Better than I Could Say It
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 7:19 pm 
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(Arguing about grammar would be ad hominem.)

Please, feel free to correct my grammar. I suck at sequence of tenses, use wrong prepositions, confuse indefinite and definite articles...


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 Post subject: Re: Literary Privilege: Better than I Could Say It
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 7:45 pm 
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Well, arguing about grammar is only ad hominem if I say, "You don't speak standard English (for instance), so your argument is invalid."

But grammar and usage are reasonable topics for discussion and argument.

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 Post subject: Re: Literary Privilege: Better than I Could Say It
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 8:04 pm 
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Last time this topic came up, I got my knickers so far in a twist that I wrote a brief sample dialog of totally normal, everyday English such as might be shared among any two relatively educated folks having a phone conversation. But I made sure that every utterance in the dialog contained at least one error that had been vilified by some grammar maven or usage expert at one time or another.

I ended up backing slowly away from the computer and deleting it. But I remember the first line: "Hi, it's me." Which contains not one, but three examples of English usage that have been criticized in the past.

Suffice to say, if you actually followed all the rules of prescriptive grammar over the ages, you'd probably have a tough time communicating effectively with everyone that wasn't a Victorian schoolmarm.

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 Post subject: Re: Literary Privilege: Better than I Could Say It
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 8:14 pm 
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Hahahaha. As I was writing my slightly tedious wee screed I was thinking 'I bet h-dog will pop his wee heid outta his hole for this'. Pressing preview confirmed it like magicks. No comment now.

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 Post subject: Re: Literary Privilege: Better than I Could Say It
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 9:11 pm 
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hoveringdog™ wrote:

Suffice to say, if you actually followed all the rules of prescriptive grammar over the ages, you'd probably have a tough time communicating effectively with everyone that wasn't a Victorian schoolmarm.


My husband's family regularly calls me the "grammar nazi" which is crazy because I am not even close and also my husband's family was forced to be in the nazi army, so being flippant about the wording surprises me. But this ^

I am a moderate "grammar nazi" for the big ones: they're/their/there, your/you're, etc. When I was younger I told myself I couldn't be with a person who couldn't spell or punctuate. Enter my husband who's grasp of the english language (when written) is sketchy at best - he is severely dyslexic and was in the assisted english classes throughout school.

So I am always torn, because I hate when people can't use the proper version of popular words, and at the same time my husband can't spell WATER. (Whather anyone?)

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 Post subject: Re: Literary Privilege: Better than I Could Say It
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 9:22 pm 
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This article is interesting to me in that I've been watching a lot of videos today on Appalachian dialect and they speak about the misconception that people's intelligence is directly related to their use of standard English.

That being said, I have to agree with Footface that there are two different questions at play. My friend's mom (who wasn't from our town in WV) retold a story at dinner one night about a woman telling her that she was going to "dethaw" something for dinner that night. My friend's mom asked her about it, and the woman responded something along the lines of "well that's how we say it here." But dethawing something would be freezing it. The statement is illogical and incorrectly describes what she was doing.

Whether it was rude for my friend's mom to correct her is an entirely different matter.

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 Post subject: Re: Literary Privilege: Better than I Could Say It
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 10:17 pm 
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I'm too tired to read the article, I just want the cat. Also, my kindergartner is a grammar dick and I'm torn on my feelings on that. Totally funny to hear her correct my mom, but not so cool when it's strangers.


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 Post subject: Re: Literary Privilege: Better than I Could Say It
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 10:25 pm 
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ndpittman wrote:
the woman responded something along the lines of "well that's how we say it here." But dethawing something would be freezing it. The statement is illogical and incorrectly describes what she was doing.
Sure, it's technically illogical, but it still makes sense. I mean, you'd know what she meant by it, eh? Which is what counts.

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