Similar to Black English, Hawaiian Creole English (HCE -- popularly known as
"Hawaiian pidgin") is also a low-status language.  (It is, in fact,
linguistically distinct from English and has its own grammatical structure
and intonation pattern.)  Generations of native speakers of HCE have
referred to their language as "broken English", and it is regarded by many
-- including many employers -- as less desirable or acceptable than standard
American English.  For many native HCE speakers, the adaptive solution has
been to learn standard English and to "code-switch" between the two
languages as appropriate to the situation.  I believe it's possible for
people to do this as a practical strategy without feeling like they are
inferior.  I also agree with Nic that a dualistic view of language is not


Beth Kupper-Herr   
Coordinator, Learning Resource Center
Leeward Community College
96-045 Ala Ike
Pearl City, HI  96782
e-mail:  [log in to unmask]
phone/voice mail:  (808) 455-0413


> Rae,
> Thanks for picking this thread back up.
> When thinking of language variety or dialect (not "accent"), I think
> it is important to make a distinction between the rule-governed
> nature  of a variety of language and its social, political and
> economic status. This distinction is suggested by the quote from
> McClendon below. He points out that "Black English" (note that not
> all Black people speak this variety, and persons who would not be
> considered black do, in fact, speak this variety) has features he
> likes, but that speaking it can lead to being discriminated against.
> That is, because the language is low status, those who speak it may
> be treated as low status, denied access to full participation in our
> society, and judged inferior in some way. So, while so-called Black
> English is as legitimate a variety of  language as any other in terms
> syntax, phonology, morphology, etc. it is not considered legitimate
> by most in dominate positions in our society. This is a social
> judgement, not a linguistic one. Few, if any, linguists would say
> that Standard American English is "better" linguistically than Black
> English. Why, indeed, should we even use dualisms of "better and
> worse", "correct and incorrect" when thinking about language? Is
> green "better" than orange? Is a chicken an incorrect variety of bird
> because it does not fly?
> So, I would ask Mr McClendon, "better" for what? Better
> grammatically? Linguistic evidence doesn't support that claim. Better
> in terms of having access to power? I would agree. But at what price
> to these speakers do we seek to change their ways of speaking to be
> like the standard?
> So, when we as educators attempt to  "improve" our students'
> dialects, we need to be aware that we are not teaching "correct"
> English, but rather, "conventional" and "codified" English that
> reflects the ways of speaking of those who do the codifying.
> Nic
>> Our College recently invited writer, diversity trainer and talk show
>> host Garrard McClendon to speak on his new book "Ax or Ask? The African
>> American Guide to Better English."  Our student newspaper ran an article
>> on McClendon.  He is quoted as saying, "I love Black English, it's
>> comfortable, rhythmic, but use it all the time and you can be
>> discriminated against. Sometimes we blame things on color, when it could
>> be dialect."  He reminded the audience that there is no such word as
>> "squoze" or "irregardless."  In addition to his book, McClendon has
>> created a website
>> to further educate African Americans.
>> I, myself, have not reviewed his book; and I have briefly visited his
>> website.  You may find one or both helpful.
>> Rae M. Maslana, M.Ed., NCC, LPC
>> Certified Learning Center Leadership Professional - Level 4
>> College of DuPage
>> Coordinator, Tutoring Services
>> Academic Support Center, IC 3040
>> (630) 942-3681
>> and
>> C.O.D. Counselor
>> (630) 942-4804 - Westmont Center
>> (630)942-4603 - Addison Center
>> Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that
>> matter.
>> -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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