Friday, August 26, 2011

SC + TTT + Late = Too busy to Blog

When Jen said the spin topic this week was language, possible spins wove through my head all week.

Should I write about my love for foul language, (more so in writing than speech) and how newly invented words like Jan's Fuck-ton make my day and inspire me to write?

How about the doctoral student in my graduate rhetoric class, with her salt and pepper bob and grannie glasses, thrilling me to no end when she dryly gave a filibuster in class one day on the origin of the word fuck and how the upper-class British back in the day relegated the word into something bad and dirty to keep the classes distinct?

Should I write about how much I loved the book Bee Season and the whole idea of a mystical experience coming from the sounds that syllables make?

And, then. There is the enormous topic of home language versus Standard English and the place (or not) of home dialects in a classroom. This is a huge conversation in Hawaii, where pidgin English is the home language for most of its children.

It is inappropriate to tell children that their home language is "low" or "stupid," as in doing so it is equivalent to telling them that their parents and grandparents, their aunties and uncles - that all the people they love are stupid.

However.

If Standard English is not taught to these same kids, if they do not learn how to become bi-dialectical, how to code switch, how to discern where and when each language is appropriate; if pidgin is allowed to be the only language in the classroom, then the teacher is allowing a gate to be shut. Teaching them Standard English while respecting their home language allows them to pass through this gate into other worlds. It would not be fair to send these kids off to college and life thinking they will never need Standard English.

I could go on and on with this subject. It's a huge deal here. I could give examples of both ends of this debate or argue for my middle ground philosophy.

But I found this on YouTube and this girl says it so much better.



I hope you watched it all the way to the end, but if you did not, take this line with you today:

"Isn't that the meaning of life (or language) to understand one another

'mo bettah?"

For more spins, head on over to Jen at Sprite's Keeper.

If you wanted to link a travel post yesterday and noticed I wasn't around, go ahead and link up today!

13 comments:

Kristan said...

Whoa, is that a typical accent? It's like ... more British and "street" sounding than I expected! I don't remember hearing it when I visited Hawaii, but then again, I was mostly in Waikiki, and it was like a decade ago. Lol. I love it.

Great video, thank you for sharing! She seems very intelligent (and beautiful!). Although I think she's literally in her closet, hehe.

And yes, language is so fascinating. If you want to read another great book that (indirectly) discusses language in a wonderful way, check out Room by Emma Donoghue. It's amazing.

Michele said...

I am of a like mind about home language and Standard English. Home language should be honored and Standard English needs to be taught. but, not at the expensive of home language.

Sprite's Keeper said...

Mo better? I wish I could see the link!
I agree completely about stressing Standard English with respect to home language since most home language represents history within the family and where they come from.
And fuck-ton is still my favorite word to date. :-)
You're linked!

Brian Miller said...

i all fo me better understanding in life...smiles...its like rich undertones of flavor...

Camille said...

I loved that.

And I think I've left this comment on half the spins this week, but seriously: we cannot discuss dialects without also adding David Foster Wallace's essay "Tense Present" into the mix. Have you read it? It's brilliant.

CaJoh said...

I agree that we should be emphasizing proper English. Just not sure how some can be able to switch gears if they are not taught how to do so.

formerlyonlyamovie said...

I love this so much. Thanks for linking the video.

I had a thought to study linguistics in grad school before teaching became the logical conclusion. Love to learn about how languages evolve.

Bee Season was one of my favorites.

blueviolet said...

Everyone has to have the proper foundation firmly laid with language. Where they go from there is their option, but at least they have that foundation to go back to when appropriate.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Mo better. Gotta love that. Many placed I taught kids had their own dialect. Delicate issue to teach them to speak well.

Forgot about the travel spin. Had a few lately.

Kathy said...

That was cool - love the video :) I think it's important to have the "home" language but also know the language of the country that you live in. Be able to speak proper English. I have friends that moved here at a young age, and they spoke both languages - while their parents only spoke their native language. The kids always translated for them. I don't think that was fair to the kids.

Mama Badger said...

This was a huge topic of conversation when I was teaching, as California had the whole eubonics (did I even spell that right) thing going on at the time.

I agree that we need to put value on the dialect spoken at home, or on the street or wherever. But it seemed just wrong to me to teach in anything less than proper written English. What do you do when you have more than one ethnicity in a classroom? Who's version is correct at that point?

Joanna Jenkins said...

I sooo agree with you on this.
xo jj

creative kerfuffle said...

i think you have to learn Standard English, no matter which state you live in. trust me, there are people right here in nc who could stand a dose of it. keep the home language, it's part of the history and culture, and home, but--the rest of the world won't understand it. are we to assume that none of these kids will ever leave the islands or interact w/ anyone not living on the islands? if they write a book it will only be for islanders? the world is getting smaller every day. they need to learn both.