Word On The Street: Debunking The Myth Of A Pure Standard English

Sold by Basic Books
2
Free sample

Though there is a contingent of linguists who fight the fact, our language is always changing--not only through slang, but sound, syntax, and words' meanings as well. Debunking the myth of "pure" standard English, tackling controversial positions, and eschewing politically correct arguments, linguist John McWhorter considers speech patterns and regional accents to demonstrate just how the changes do occur. Wielding reason and humor, McWhorter ultimately explains why we must embrace these changes, ultimately revealing our American English in all its variety, expressiveness, and power.
Read more

About the author

John McWhorter is Assistant Professor of Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. A specialist in pidgin and Creole languages, he lives in Oakland, California.
Read more
3.0
2 total
Loading...

Additional Information

Publisher
Basic Books
Read more
Published on
Mar 6, 2009
Read more
Pages
302
Read more
ISBN
9780786731473
Read more
Language
English
Read more
Genres
Language Arts & Disciplines / Linguistics / General
Read more
Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
Read more
Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
Read more
Eligible for Family Library

Reading information

Smartphones and Tablets

Install the Google Play Books app for Android and iPad/iPhone. It syncs automatically with your account and allows you to read online or offline wherever you are.

Laptops and Computers

You can read books purchased on Google Play using your computer's web browser.

eReaders and other devices

To read on e-ink devices like the Sony eReader or Barnes & Noble Nook, you'll need to download a file and transfer it to your device. Please follow the detailed Help center instructions to transfer the files to supported eReaders.
Foreigners often say that English language is "easy." A language like Spanish is challenging in its variety of verb endings (the verb speak is conjugated hablo, hablas, hablamos), and gender for nouns, whereas English is more straight forward (I speak, you speak, we speak). But linguists generally swat down claims that certain languages are "easier" than others, since it is assumed all languages are complex to the same degree. For example, they will point to English's use of the word "do" -- Do you know French? This usage is counter-intuitive and difficult for non-native speakers. Linguist John McWhorter agrees that all languages are complex, but questions whether or not they are all equally complex. The topic of complexity has become a hot issue in recent years, particularly in creole studies, historical linguistics, and language contact. As McWhorter describes, when languages came into contact over the years (when French speakers ruled the English for a few centuries, or the vikings invaded England), a large number of speakers are forced to learn a new language quickly, and this came up with a simplified version, a pidgin. When this ultimately turns into a "real" language, a creole, the result is still simpler and less complex than a "non-interrupted" language that has been around for a long time. McWhorter makes the case that this kind of simplification happens in degrees, and criticizes linguists who are reluctant to say that, for example, English is simply simpler than Spanish for socio-historical reasons. He analyzes how various languages that seem simple but are not creoles, actually are simpler than they would be if they had not been broken down by large numbers of adult learners. In addition to English, he looks at Mandarin Chinese, Persian, Malay, and some Arabic varieties. His work will interest not just experts in creole studies and historical linguistics, but the wider community interested in language complexity.
The aim of this book is to provide the student of Japanese with a simple method for correlating the writing and the meaning of Japanese characters in such a way as to make them both easy to remember. It is intended not only for the beginner, but also for the more advanced student looking for some relief from the constant frustration of how to write the kanji and some way to systematize what he or she already knows. The author begins with writing because--contrary to first impressions--it is in fact the simpler of the two. He abandons the traditional method of ordering the kanji according to their frequency of use and organizes them according to their component parts or "primitive elements." Assigning each of these parts a distinct meaning with its own distinct image, the student is led to harness the powers of "imaginative memory" to learn the various combinations that result. In addition, each kanji is given its own key word to represent the meaning, or one of the principal meanings, of that character. These key words provide the setting for a particular kanji's "story," whose protagonists are the primitive elements. In this way, students are able to complete in a few short months a task that would otherwise take years. Armed with the same skills as Chinese or Korean students, who know the meaning and writing of the kanji but not their pronunciation in Japanese, they are now in a much better position to learn to read (which is treated in a separate volume). For further information and a sample of the contents, visit http: ///www.nanzan-u.ac.jp/SHUBUNKEN/publications/miscPublications/Remembering_the_Kanji_l.htm.
A bestselling linguist takes us on a lively tour of how the English language is evolving before our eyes -- and why we should embrace this transformation and not fight it

Language is always changing -- but we tend not to like it. We understand that new words must be created for new things, but the way English is spoken today rubs many of us the wrong way. Whether it’s the use of literally to mean “figuratively” rather than “by the letter,” or the way young people use LOL and like, or business jargon like What’s the ask? -- it often seems as if the language is deteriorating before our eyes.

But the truth is different and a lot less scary, as John McWhorter shows in this delightful and eye-opening exploration of how English has always been in motion and continues to evolve today. Drawing examples from everyday life and employing a generous helping of humor, he shows that these shifts are a natural process common to all languages, and that we should embrace and appreciate these changes, not condemn them.

Words on the Move opens our eyes to the surprising backstories to the words and expressions we use every day. Did you know that silly once meant “blessed”? Or that ought was the original past tense of owe? Or that the suffix -ly in adverbs is actually a remnant of the word like? And have you ever wondered why some people from New Orleans sound as if they come from Brooklyn?

McWhorter encourages us to marvel at the dynamism and resilience of the English language, and his book offers a lively journey through which we discover that words are ever on the move and our lives are all the richer for it.

©2018 GoogleSite Terms of ServicePrivacyDevelopersArtistsAbout Google|Location: United StatesLanguage: English (United States)
By purchasing this item, you are transacting with Google Payments and agreeing to the Google Payments Terms of Service and Privacy Notice.