Should all English people be forced to speak English 'properly'?

mjd   Monday, April 19, 2004, 23:18 GMT

Notice the quotation marks around "proper English" in my initial statement...I'm aware that there is no such thing.

As to your point about young people being more accepting....I'm not so sure about that. Stigmas surrounding accents may not be as bad as they were in the past, but they're still very much alive.

If I were to walk into a bar and start speaking "educated" flowery English, it would seem pretentious and probably annoy some people. I agree with you on that. I wouldn't recommend that people speak the way they write. However, just as flowery English would annoy most of the people in the bar, very "non-standard" English would also be perceived negatively (of course, this largely depends on the clientele). Right or wrong, this is how it is. Thus, I reaffirm that it is to an ESL student's advantage to learn a dialect that is more or less standard.
Coolio   Monday, April 19, 2004, 23:27 GMT
Konrad, yo g! I gots yo name rong da last time. I called you Konstantine. Don't be hatin me for bustin on yo name, aiight? I sumtimes do dat, cuz y'know I's got dislexia or a lernin disability or sumpin like dat. So don't be trippin aiight, I got yo back. We cool?
Konrad Valentin   Tuesday, April 20, 2004, 07:59 GMT

We cool, bro.


"Thus, I reaffirm that it is to an ESL student's advantage to learn a dialect that is more or less standard."

I strongly disagree with this statement, as do all of my TESL colleagues. It is to the ESL student's advantage that they are taught both standard and non-standard English. Teaching students the standard English dialect alone puts them at an immediate disadvantage when they attempt to communicate with the vast majority of English speakers for whom the non-standard dialect is the preferred norm. It must be remembered that the standard English dialect is largely an abstract form that only a small percentage of English speakers actually use. Students usually ask to be taught both standard and non-standard varieties anyway, so us EFL tutors rarely have any choice in the matter.
mjd   Tuesday, April 20, 2004, 08:27 GMT
I'm all for students learning slang, words like "ain't", differences among dialects etc. Don't get me wrong here. I'm not saying we should teach students "textbook English" and nothing more. Students should be exposed to as much as possible with regard to the diversity of the English language. However, the standard is usually what we refer to when we write. In addition, the further one strays from the standard, the less chance that he/she will be understood by the maximum number of people. If a student who wanted to learn English were to master some sort of rural dialect, he/she would get along fine in that particular area, but many of these regionalisms might be lost on say an urban population.

Let's say I'm studying some sort of rural Ebonics from an area in Mississippi. After years of study, I master this dialect. I then encounter someone from a rural town in northern England, a town which possesses all sorts of regionalisms of its own. We might have some serious obstacles when it comes to communication, whereas if I had studied a more standard English, I wouldn't face these problems and communication would be somewhat easier.
Konrad Valentin   Tuesday, April 20, 2004, 08:31 GMT
Agreed. I'd say we're singing from the same hymn book here.
Kaitlyn   Wednesday, April 21, 2004, 19:50 GMT
not all people speak with the same dialect, so it sounds like improper english. All people should be aloud to speak in an improper or proper way. for example if a southern person came to new england they would talk in a dialect that sounds like the person can not talk right but thats not the case. they speak the way the do from where they are born so people shouldn't have to talk in "proper" english
nic   Tuesday, April 27, 2004, 08:47 GMT
It depends with who you are talking, i imagine it's the same in U.S or G.B, you can't use the same words at work and with friends.
The 2 languages aren't without benefits. So i think you must use the twice in function of people you are talking to.
Damian Grant   Monday, May 03, 2004, 23:22 GMT
I am from Scotland studying English at a university in England and have met other students from many parts of the world. What I have found is that most of the people from abroad speak better standard English than we do who have lived here all our lives and for whom English is our native language. I suppose the people from outside have not fallen into the habit of using slang terms and being careless in the way we speak. We tend to speak differently when we are socialising together, adopting forms of Estuary English or using local dialects as we are more relaxed with each other. Foreigners tend to speak the correct forms of English they were taught as they do not know any different in the main. Perhaps if they stay here long enough they will adopt our bad habits as well! LOL Anyway, a living language is always changing, and English has had a lot of changes over the years. One blatant grammatical error that seems to be getting generally accepted by a lot of people is the use of "less" for "fewer". Perhaps it is pedantic now to point that out. But I am a student of English after all.
Martin   Tuesday, May 04, 2004, 00:22 GMT
I live in Canada and I am originally from Plymouth, England. There are
times when I do not understand Canadians. I find at times they do not communicate very well. There seems to be a habit of speaking in ambigous
ways such that the meaning of what they are saying is not well understood.
(like politicians :))
I worked for a Canadian company doing a contract for an English one.
The English company repeatedly asked for clarification of meaning with
regard to the Canadian communication. This eventually became a complaint.
I have worked with immigrants, some speak and write very well, however there are plenty that do not and their lack of skill in the language is a well
known problem in the Candian workplace. That is why there are so many ESl
schools here.
Konrad Valentin   Tuesday, May 04, 2004, 18:16 GMT
Tut, tut, Damian. If you really are, as you say, "a student of English," then you should know better than to use such subjective terminology as 'better', 'careless', 'correct', 'bad' and 'error' in reference to varieties of English. Please remember that linguistics is a science. Linguists are not pedants. Nor should we study language variation in an objective manner. If anything is in error, it is your attitude.
Damian   Thursday, May 06, 2004, 23:09 GMT
Oops. Konrad! I stand corrected then. I understand exactly what you mean and I apologise. Thanks for reminding me but I truly am a student of English and take my final exams just over two weeks from now. At least I feel my attitude is positive.
box man   Friday, May 07, 2004, 14:34 GMT
konrad- i grew up with some hood friends and family as well. i learned to speak "hood english" with the very best of them however, a couple of years ago i realized there's two ways to speak english 'with your buddies english' and 'workplace english'. i'm seriously lacking in the 'workplace english'. any suggestions for aquiring this kind of english without alot of greens? maybe something online or some textbooks that would start at the basics and help me speak with the best of them in the end. not only for myself but for my kids as well, i feel they need to learn both and that starts at home. any help would be much appreciated.........
Mai Kia   Friday, May 07, 2004, 16:30 GMT
Re: ain't

Hello there. I'm a junior at Arlington High school, and I am a minority. Well, it is important that your teacher tells you the importance of speaking proper English. Either you enter into college, or talk in public, others of a higher level will look down on you. Which I mean they will judge you by how you speak. "Low-class people".I am pretty sure that no one wants to be lable that way, but it is how life is. Others judges you by how you dress, and speak. Any feedbacks? email me at