By Edwin Battistella
Is modern day language at an rock bottom? Are pronunciations like cawfee and chawklit undesirable English? Is slang like my bad or hook up incorrect? Is it improper to combine English and Spanish, as in Yo quiero Taco Bell? are you able to write Who do you belief? instead of Whom do you belief? Linguist Edwin Battistella takes a difficult examine conventional notions of undesirable language, arguing that they're frequently established in sterile conventionality.
Examining grammar and elegance, cursing, slang, and political correctness, nearby and ethnic dialects, and international accents and language blending, Battistella discusses the powerful emotions evoked via language edition, from objections to the pronunciation NU-cu-lar to lawsuits approximately bilingual schooling. He explains the average wish for uniformity in writing and talking and strains the organization of mainstream norms to rules approximately refinement, intelligence, schooling, personality, nationwide harmony and political values. Battistella argues that none of those traits is inherently hooked up to language.
It is tempting yet mistaken, Battistella argues, to consider slang, dialects and nonstandard grammar as easily breaking the foundations of excellent English. as an alternative, we should always view language as made of replacement types of orderliness followed via audio system reckoning on their objective. hence we will be able to examine the constitution and context of nonstandard language so one can light up and improve conventional kinds of language, and make coverage judgements in keeping with an educated engagement.
Re-examining longstanding and heated debates, Bad Language will entice a large spectrum of readers engaged and attracted to the controversy over what constitutes right language.
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Extra resources for Bad Language: Are Some Words Better than Others?
In the latter part of the nineteenth century and in the first half of the twentieth century, a new group of scholars took up this challenge, refining and championing the doctrine of usage. Reacting at times to late nineteenth-century critics of bad English,10 writers like Thomas Lounsbury and William Dwight Whitney pointed out the role of educated usage in determining correctness. They also pointed out the tenu48 | Bad Language ous nature of older, fixed standards of correctness. 11 Krapp was also concerned with the problem of settling on a standard—of deciding who the best speakers and writers are.
In actuality, writing is neither so mysterious that it requires one to be touched by a muse nor so simple that all it requires is a foundation in grammar and logic. Writing is a craft, like carpentry, medicine, or being able to tell a joke. Natural talent and early experience with discourse of certain kinds no doubt play a role, but principles of organization, clarity, and coherence 24 | Bad Language can be taught, fostered, and improved through exposure, analysis, modeling, and practice. How do we tell if someone can write adequately?
Concerns about style such as those raised by Orwell are not novel, and similar language issues have dominated in other times. The Renaissance, for example, was characterized in part by attempts to improve English by borrowing and coining new terms, many of them of classical origin and many others borrowed from French, Italian, and Spanish. This activity, coupled with the emergence of English as a language of educated discourse, caused a tremendous expansion of the vocabulary. Borrowing was not universally welcomed, however.
Bad Language: Are Some Words Better than Others? by Edwin Battistella