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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There is one modern expression that impishly forces us to accept change
whether we like it or not, whole nother, as in That's a whole nother issue. That
little turn of phrase looks odd in print, doesn't it? And yet almost all of us say it all
As for the linguistic aspect of the issue, however, the claim that the life and times
of modern Black English are an index of increasing segregation is, like the Pan-
African Communication Behavior notion, a sexy idea unsupported by the facts.
The issue is whether or not Black English is so different from standard English
that black children are being saddled with a burden. In this country, where all
English dialects are rather close, this proposition appears plausible at first.
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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