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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West Indian patois, faced with Hamlet's conundrum, chose "not 'to be'," just as
Russian and Arabic did: She my mother is typical of varieties of Barbadian,
Jamaican patois, and Gullah. The patois passed this on to Black English. Another
Here are some samples of Gullah creole, closely related to Jamaican patois: Now
ah des' come yuh dis eebnin fuh see how hunnuh dun do. Now, I just came here
this evening to see how you all are doing. Sisteh Phyliss, wisseh you bin git da ...
The Jamaican patois data are from the classic Jamaican Creole by Robert B.
LePage and David DeCamp (London: Macmillan, 1960), which has an elegant
history as well as stories in patois; see also Barbara Lalla and Jean D'Costa's ...
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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