The Word on the Street: Fact and Fable about American English
In The Word on the Street, John McWhorter reveals our American English in all its variety, beauty, and expressiveness. Debunking the myth of a "pure" standard English, he considers the speech patterns and accents of many regions and ethnic groups in the U.S. and demonstrates how language evolves. He takes up the tricky question of gender-neutral pronouns. He dares to ask, "Should we translate Shakespeare?" Focusing on whether how our children speak determines how they learn, he presents the controversial Ebonics debate in light of his research on dialects and creoles. The Word on the Street frees us to truly speak our minds. It is John McWhorter's answer to William Safire, transformed here into everybody's Aunt Lucy, who insists on correcting our grammar and making us feel slightly embarrassed about our everyday use of the language. ("To whom, " she will insist, and "don't split your infinitives!") He reminds us that we'd better accept the fact that language is always changing - not only slang, but sound, syntax, and words' meanings - and get on with the business of communicating effectively with one another.
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Chinese people today would find Ancient Chinese as baffling to the ear as we
would find Old English. A Navajo would need a crossmillennial translator to
converse with a Navajo from a.d. 1000; a modern Samoan would be equally
For example, if Gullah was once spoken throughout the South and beyond, we
would expect to find slaves quoted as speaking Gullah in places other than the
Sea Islands. But what we find is slaves speaking one of two things. For one,
No one was more surprised than I was to find that I was alone in dissent, because
as we shall see later, I have only been alone when the cameras were rolling.
Perhaps this makes it even more important that I believe that bringing Black ...
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The word on the street: fact and fable about American EnglishUser Review - Not Available - Book Verdict
In the first section of this enlightening book, McWhorter (linguistics, Berkeley) examines language as "a system that is at all times on its way to changing into a different one." Not only are new ... Read full review
Lava Lamps and Language
The Linguistic Melting Pot
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Other editions - View all
The Word on the Street: Debunking the Myth of "pure" Standard English
John H. McWhorter
Limited preview - 2001
Word On The Street: Debunking The Myth Of A Pure Standard English
Limited preview - 2009