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Guess I've been living in the rural areas for too long.  I reading it with a
Norwegian accent in my head and I would have trusted his testimony.

Perceptions are tricky, ain't they?
Christie

-----Original Message-----
From: Steve Runge <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Tuesday, December 08, 1998 11:26 AM
Subject: Re: Spoken English


>For those following this thread, I have assembled most of the dialect
>pet-peeves
>into a short vignette:
>-------------------------------------------
>The building was broke into just as a guy outside was busted for
jaywalking.
>Don't that just beat all? I was real pissed. I should of did it; I should
of
>went over there and given that cop a what-for. I mean, to my brother and I
>standing there, it was like that cop was trained by my aunt Lucy who don't
>abide spittin' and jaywalkin' and the word ain't more'n damnation itself.
>
>Gawd, I was all fit to be tied about what I seen that morning. But alls we
>done is just kinda stand there, like we didn't know what to do or nothin'.
>It's like what they say about being in shock, we were in shock. But I seen
>the guy what broke into the building. I seen him but good.
>---------------------------------------
>What social class and region is the speaker from? What does this say about
>our preconceptions and stereotypes? Why do certain surface details of
>dialect annoy us, and certain surface details fool us into believing every
>word? If you heard this man's testimony in a court of law, would you
>discredit his testimony because of his dialect? Would you be more willing
to
>trust the testimony of a man (or woman) who began, "Precisely coincident
>with the moment at which the burglar effected entry, the oblivious
constable
>was preparing the jaywalking violation of an otherwise law-abiding citizen.
>Preposterous!" Why?
>
>Recommended reading: Labov, William. Language in the Inner City: Studies in
>the Black English Vernacular. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania
>Press, 1972.
>
>Labov presents a number of answers to questions he asked in linguistic
>fieldwork, one of which was about God and religiosity. There is an
>interesting contrast between the answers of a suburban, upwardly mobile
>black professional (grammatically correct, poor reasoning), and that of an
>inner city black gang member (strong dialect, excellent reasoning).
>
>I'm sure
>there are plenty of counter-examples; I am not trying to make the point
that
>grammar instruction doesn't belong in education. It does, but in its place:
>offering students a chance to learn the dialect of the elite, so they can
>get ahead in life.
>Labov's point is that people are more apt to be swayed by dialect than by
>reasoning. I don't think this is a reason to justify "correcting" people's
>speech; I think it's a reason to focus on our own our own prejudicial
>incapacities to listen.  To paraphrase clumsily the man whose birthday
>season we're celebrating, take the plank out of your own ear.
>
>Steve Runge
>Academic Skills Coordinator
>St. Lawrence U.
>Canton, NY 13617
>[log in to unmask]
>