What Is Non Standard American English

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We often assume, consciously or subconsciously, that non-standard varieties of American English are inferior to Standard American English (SAE). Indeed, the general public at-large views SAE as more "correct" than other American English dialects such as Black Vernacular English (BVE); however, many linguists view the notion of a "standard" variety of American English as an illusion. They argue that designations of language varieties and dialects as "standard" or "non-standard" are based on socioeconomics and politics, rather than logic and conciseness. Thus, because many American English dialects are as logical as SAE, many linguists believe teachers should not force students to renounce their dialects for SAE. Instead, teachers should appreciate…show more content…
Although "all communities agree that standard English is the proper medium for formal writing and public communication," as Labov notes, descriptivists agree that SAE does not even exist (Labov, 1995, p. 295). Thus, it seems almost moronic to judge students on whether or not they speak SAE. In addition, nonstandard American English dialects are in no way illogical or irrational. Black English Vernacular, for example, has a strict set of grammatical rules. Labov writes how "the deletion of the is or are in BEV is not the result of erratic or illogical behavior; it follows the same regular rules as standard English contraction" (Labov, 1995, p. 299). While many of us view the deletion of is and are as illogical, they actually are not. Even so, we often apply stereotypes and biases to our interactions with nonstandard variations of American English; linguistic variations often reinforce prejudices. Descriptivists want teachers to recognize that linguistic variation is not necessarily bad. George Gadda's "Language Change in the History of English: Implications for Teachers" does an excellent job of summarizing how English has changed since the prehistoric era. He argues that "consistent radical change has been in the history of English" and avoid "the unfortunate popular attitude that sees all change in language as decay from a Golden Age of Good English" (Gadda, 1995, p. 262). Simply put, Gadda argues that teachers should accept linguistic variation in the library and promote mutual understandings of English. Teachers should be understanding of students' different linguistic backgrounds and create an environment where many dialects can be heard, understood, and

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