St. Louis, MO
What is proper English? do you know? do you think you speak proper english? every language
has a sublanguage. because in every land there are those that cannot be educated in the proper way, due to location, income level or lack of schools. So to say that someone should speak proper is a judgement call, because when you go to their neighbor hood you may not be speaking proper to them…
Perhaps you’re an immigrant who doesn’t know that federal law requires that every American school-aged child be educated. So, what do income level and location have to do with every child’s legal access to an education? The curriculum in every school–whether it be public, private, parochial, or home school–includes English, so there is no excuse for not knowing how to speak it and to write it.
If you mean that “proper” speaking requires that I validate another’s small view of the world, I’m not interested in limiting myself that way. I would rather demonstrate that words, well spoken or well written, have extraordinary power. You need only to look at President Obama to know what I’m talking about. He didn’t get to be president by speaking in the language of the ‘hood. On the contrary, no matter to whom he’s speaking, he does not “dumb down” his language but uses the power of his education to demonstrate that every American-born child has access to resources to achieve what he has achieved.
Turn things around.
President Obama is articulate yes, but I guarantee you that when he was a community organizer, his people did not consistently critique his language skills as proper speaking. Why is it, or is it white priveledge that allows white people to judge a Black person by how well they speak. I have had friends and neighbors who seek me out to talk or write white for them. Isn’t English our mother tongue regarless of dilect or should we be speaking the african languages torn from us by slavery.
It’s not just black people, there’s plenty of people of every race in the US that speak poorly. You really don’t get the concept of proper nouns and when to capitalize words. Black is not a proper noun, Africa is.
Won’t fit on a Race Card, but how about this: “Turn things around, don’t reject people who don’t speak as you do, because that’s just one way that whites have traditionally maintained power in this country.”
As well as getting sick, angry, frustrated on this site ,I am in unbelief! Dan Henry do you seriously think this way? You honestly think the black race has been “rejected” in this country because of the way you talk? Cannot get my head around this.
JC you can’t wrap your head around what you’ve always been taught. Yes white use language skills (not to mention an inferior education system) the way we dress, our hair and other ways still to make our differences Black people’s ignorance and White people superiority. Read any of Richard Wrights books for more information to wrap your head around the truth.
Black and white are not proper nouns. So why the capital letters? You’re just further proving that most of you don’t have a very good grasp of the English language.
What does that mean?
It means he stupid.
Yes, proper English is called standard English, and many people, including blacks, know it but choose not to speak it. I can’t think of anything more offensive than a professional black person who speaks like a two-year-old child. How many times do I hear black people pronounce their Ts as Fs? “Monf” rather than “month”; “birfday” rather than “birthday”. Or drop the Ss on plurals? “My mom car” rather than “My mom’s car”. Or drop the S at the beginning of a word: “‘Pecific” rather than “specific”. Remember that I’m talking about educated blacks in good jobs. If blacks want to be taken seriously, then diction matters. Bill Cosby says that “You can’t become a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth.” I couldn’t agree more!
For more on Bill Cosby’s views:
ebonics failed because everyone knew how stupid it was.
Color-me-JC – What planet are you from, anyway?
Speech patterns are very often the trigger for how a person is treated in this country, be they black, white, brown, or any combination you wish to think of. And it does not have to be anything more unusual than simply a regional word or slang pattern.
How often is a conflict based on something as vague as a hat, or shirt color, or the way someone “said” something, or more often, on “HOW IT SHOULD BE DONE!!!”
I grew up in the northern states, and learned to speak what I have heard referred to as “Mid-western Generic Standard”. I am highly educated and am often, as a professional, working on construction sites and interacting with tradesmen from all areas and levels of society.
I learned long ago to listen to another’s speech pattern and to “bend” my own speech toward theirs to aid communication and get the other person feeling more at ease. It works quite well. When the other person is at ease and hearing a familiar speech pattern, they are usually much more receptive to new information and new ideas, and are a lot more willing to ask questions than if they feel they will be judged by their speech pattern or choice of words.
Not suprisingly, I have found this same communication “trick”in use by vast numbers of people who need to train or lead disparate groups or mold a concensus from a crowd.
Yes, there is a “proper english”, – an American analogue of BBC Standard Received, and it does have it’s place in our society. However, America is a very large place, and often, proper english is whatever style and vocabulary is required at the time to create good communication and concensus.
The biggest issue we face is convincing the rest of the country to quit seeing speech as a “difference”, and revere it as that which makes us all ‘unique’.
I agree with what you’re saying. President Obama himself writes and speaks beautiful ‘King’s English’ in the appropriate setting at the proper time. But he also adopts more casual speech patterns in certain appropriate circumstances as a mark of respect. And I think anyone I would respect returns it in kind to him. I’ve always told my white friends he’s our Bobby returned to us.
Don, if you are from MO then you more than likely have a regional accent. African Americans have a distinct accent and vernacular as well. We also speak the Kings English, and other languages. I do not understand my southern White associates at times but I do not ridicule or disparage their heritage.
I worked with a bright young (Black) engineer who spoke very proper English, at work. I had the opportunity a couple times to socialize with him, and whenever he was around the people he grew up with, he spoke “street”. That kinda surprised me, and I asked him about it. He told me that his friends would think he was talking down to them and be insulted if he spoke to them in “office mode”. I suppose we could take this seveal ways, but I understood that he did not want to make those around him feel less of a person because he understood their way of thinking and did not want to alienate them.
That guy needs some new friends. If they’re insulted by someone speaking properly, the problem lies with them and their lack of education.