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Author Topic: So I'm, like, where have our, like, vocabulary skills gone?  (Read 3887 times) Average Rating: 0
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GabrieltheCelt
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« on: April 24, 2008, 02:54:22 AM »

So, like, I was listening to some young people, like, talking the other day and I was all, "Like, what exactly are you, like, trying to say?"  And they were all, like, "OMG, the other day, I was like, all drunk and (stuff) and like, my dog kept barking and I was like, wth dude!"

Later on between two adults;

"Like, it doesn't really bother me, like, I mean, I kinda get the whole scene, but like, I dunno man."
"Yeah, it's jacked up.  Like, what's the deal with, like, that whole Linda thing?"
"I dunno dude. Like, I kinda get it but then, like, it's totally messed up."

I understand languages are always evolving with words either passing out of vogue or having new meanings attached to them.  I also understand that the average person probably uses less than 15-20 different words per day.  But it seems as if America is now trending even less, especially among young adults.  Hey, I'm no wordsmith but when I pause to reflect on this I'm like, OMG, that's like, totally messed up and scary.

 
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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2008, 03:05:23 AM »

Gabriel,

OMG, I, like, so commiserate! But dude, affectations come and go. Just, like, chill and, like, wait for the next, like,  wave.  Grin
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« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2008, 03:05:46 AM »

So, like, I was listening to some young people, like, talking the other day and I was all, "Like, what exactly are you, like, trying to say?"  And they were all, like, "OMG, the other day, I was like, all drunk and (stuff) and like, my dog kept barking and I was like, wth dude!"

Later on between two adults;

"Like, it doesn't really bother me, like, I mean, I kinda get the whole scene, but like, I dunno man."
"Yeah, it's jacked up.  Like, what's the deal with, like, that whole Linda thing?"
"I dunno dude. Like, I kinda get it but then, like, it's totally messed up."

I understand languages are always evolving with words either passing out of vogue or having new meanings attached to them.  I also understand that the average person probably uses less than 15-20 different words per day.  But it seems as if America is now trending even less, especially among young adults.  Hey, I'm no wordsmith but when I pause to reflect on this I'm like, OMG, that's like, totally messed up and scary.

 
Groovy, dude! Cool
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« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2008, 06:34:33 AM »

Groovy, dude! Cool 

The 1970's called for ya.  I told them you were on your way back.
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« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2008, 07:19:25 AM »

But it seems as if America is now trending even less, especially among young adults.


Unfortunately, it seems to me that most young adults in America lose half their brain power every week... okay, so maybe every two weeks. Roll Eyes 

It makes me sad to see so many young people full of youthful energy that just gets thrown to the wind.  Embarrassed   Everyday I see less and less glimmer of hope in their eyes... replaced with more and more confusion and frustration.  In a society like today's, what else can you expect?

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« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2008, 07:55:27 AM »

Gabriel, go rent Idiocracy.  There's where we're headed.   laugh
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« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2008, 08:48:11 AM »

I don't subscribe to the view that "our kids" are getting dumber and "language is being corrupted."  People were complaining about kids not being serious from time immemorial. When kids realize that being smart earns them more $$$, they often snap out of it.  I can be caught using words like uh like though haha lol Wink
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« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2008, 09:11:14 AM »

^ Agreed. Kids are just as smart as they ever were. They do subscribe to silly ideas frequently, though, and what's "cool" can override what is beneficial. So it may seem to us like they're being "dumb," when in actuality they are conforming to the language of the culture around them--and adaptation is a quite beneficial skill. Later in life, they'll adapt to the culture of the job they want or the area in which they want to live, and then they'll complain about the language their kids use.
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« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2008, 10:15:47 AM »

Thats only one problem that their use alotof extra words like like another is like their have no eye deer about spellen and punctuaishun and their use ebbraviaishens like 4 u in there emails to there teachers like like myselve.

I deel wid it ever day and hour and I like leraned dat miselve well like almost.
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« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2008, 10:19:19 AM »

Gabriel,

  I completely agree with you that people should take better advantage of the variety of expressive words in the English language.  It becomes pretty boring when the same words are used over and over again.  IMHO it isn't difficult to utilize different words that more accurately describe things.  You would think that people would want to be more individualized and not all sound the same.  Cool

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« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2008, 10:22:17 AM »

Thats only one problem that their use alotof extra words like like another is like their have no eye deer about spellen and punctuaishun and their use ebbraviaishens like 4 u in there emails to there teachers like like myselve.

I deel wid it ever day and hour and I like leraned dat miselve well like almost.
LOL! I must be a teacher; I could read this with no problem. Grin
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« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2008, 11:55:21 AM »

LOL! I must be a teacher; I could read this with no problem. Grin

I should of added that itsa shame ours here university excepts like almost every 1, accept those 1z that our really dumm. But, like, if your is dumm butt not very dumm u can get inn.
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« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2008, 01:48:02 PM »

I absolutely refuse to let my kids use the expression OMG.  I used to say it before I became Orthodox, until I realized it is taking the Lord's name in vain disguised as a mindless language filler.  I've tried to make the kids understand that we never use the word God that way.   However, if you're gonna make me me give up my favorite cool word "dude", y'all are whacked. 
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« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2008, 01:56:21 PM »

^ Agreed. Kids are just as smart as they ever were. They do subscribe to silly ideas frequently, though, and what's "cool" can override what is beneficial. So it may seem to us like they're being "dumb," when in actuality they are conforming to the language of the culture around them--and adaptation is a quite beneficial skill. Later in life, they'll adapt to the culture of the job they want or the area in which they want to live, and then they'll complain about the language their kids use.
Whoaa there, Professor Emeritus! Cheesy  I don't recall saying kids are getting dumber, I said the vocabulary skills of America's young adults are seriously lacking.  That's like, a totally major difference dude. Wink Cheesy
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« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2008, 05:29:25 PM »

I had a genetics/biology/microbiology professor (I had him for many classes indeed) who when someone would ask or answer a question with a lot of likes, he would count them with his fingers and then proceed to say "I'm sorry.  Would you please repeat the question?  I was too distracted by the 15 'likes' you said."

He was not afraid to offend.  The man was ruthless, but a great professor (and a great philosopher, even though he never taught philosophy).
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« Reply #15 on: April 24, 2008, 05:44:58 PM »

Quote
Thats only one problem that their use alotof extra words like like another is like their have no eye deer about spellen and punctuaishun and their use ebbraviaishens like 4 u in there emails to there teachers like like myselve.

LOL, Heorhij, when I read this, I pictured you trying to say the actual sentence with one of those big plastic redneck teeth toys in your mouth... Grin
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« Reply #16 on: April 24, 2008, 06:17:01 PM »

However, if you're gonna make me me give up my favorite cool word "dude", y'all are whacked. 

 Grin
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« Reply #17 on: April 24, 2008, 09:01:01 PM »

LOL, Heorhij, when I read this, I pictured you trying to say the actual sentence with one of those big plastic redneck teeth toys in your mouth... Grin

Now thats funny!!!!!!
laugh laugh laugh
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« Reply #18 on: April 27, 2008, 03:01:48 PM »

Whoaa there, Professor Emeritus! Cheesy  I don't recall saying kids are getting dumber, I said the vocabulary skills of America's young adults are seriously lacking.  That's like, a totally major difference dude. Wink Cheesy
Oh, I don't believe their vocabulary skills are lacking. In fact, their use of "filler words" such as, like, like and such as, you know, indicates a progression of vocabulary skills. By using such words they prove their desire to linguistically conform to the culture around them, which is a real step forward. However, as Heorhij pointed out, by college they should have learned which groups are beneficial to conform to and which ones are not.
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« Reply #19 on: April 28, 2008, 12:13:36 AM »

Oh, I don't believe their vocabulary skills are lacking. In fact, their use of "filler words" such as, like, like and such as, you know, indicates a progression of vocabulary skills. By using such words they prove their desire to linguistically conform to the culture around them, which is a real step forward. However, as Heorhij pointed out, by college they should have learned which groups are beneficial to conform to and which ones are not.

In fact adults seeing themselves as "proper" users of english seems to be denounced by the linguistics academia stating that children are masters of language and this progression is normal.
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« Reply #20 on: April 28, 2008, 12:03:43 PM »

Maybe the likes and ums kids use these days are just gaps in their speech because their young minds move so fast the speech part can't keep up with the thinking part.
Think about it even if we don't use the words um and like we still use filler words or use body language/hand movements to attempt to describe what we are thinking.  ya know.. pause hand movement....scratch chin look up in the air as if in deep thought (because you are).
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« Reply #21 on: April 28, 2008, 01:00:23 PM »

However, as Heorhij pointed out, by college they should have learned which groups are beneficial to conform to and which ones are not.
Agreed, and this is the demographic I was referring to in my first example (recall that this person was trying to explain that she was suffering from a hangover [meaning she hopefully is of college age] and her dog's barking was making it worse.) The second coversation was between two males in their late twenties/early thirties.  IMO, the first example could possibly be excused because of age, though it's still somewhat troubling on more than one level (drunkeness, inability to express oneself,...)  The second example is even more troubling because of their ages, although a degree of leniency could be exercised as they could've been good friends and therefore comfortable around one another.

Who knows?  Maybe I'm just getting older and more crotchety... Cheesy
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« Reply #22 on: April 28, 2008, 02:41:36 PM »

Who knows?  Maybe I'm just getting older and more crotchety... Cheesy

Nothing wrong with that... as long as those darn kids stay off your lawn.   laugh
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« Reply #23 on: April 28, 2008, 03:38:19 PM »

I don't subscribe to the view that "our kids" are getting dumber and "language is being corrupted."  People were complaining about kids not being serious from time immemorial. When kids realize that being smart earns them more $$$, they often snap out of it.  I can be caught using words like uh like though haha lol Wink

^ Agreed. Kids are just as smart as they ever were. They do subscribe to silly ideas frequently, though, and what's "cool" can override what is beneficial. So it may seem to us like they're being "dumb," when in actuality they are conforming to the language of the culture around them--and adaptation is a quite beneficial skill. Later in life, they'll adapt to the culture of the job they want or the area in which they want to live, and then they'll complain about the language their kids use.

I'm not so sure I agree with y'all here (see, there I go conforming to the predominant linguistic culture 'round here).

To offer an example of what I mean, consider the following: we just finished talking about Argentina in my class, and I had some questions for them to answer.  I had originally phrased a question about Evita Perón's tomb so that the phrase "the people of Buenos Aires feared vandalism" was used.  I had to change it because the phrase "feared vandalism" was tripping up too many of the kids.  One of the students piped up and said, "You know, like, they were scared (pronounced skuurrrrred) that somebody'd, like, tag her grave or some (stuff)."

Translation completed: discussion continued.  In subsequent classes I had to say that "they were afraid that the gravesite would be vandalized," and that seemed to work all right.

I don't have a problem with the choice of translation words used to convey the meaning, or even that they talk in this fashion to each other.  What bothers me is that (1) kids don't have the ability to comprehend language expressed in something other than the intimate or informal register, and (2) the things that are expressed in this "it's like, y'know" register are, in and of themselves, ridiculous.  When I meet their parents, I understand why: these kids are coming from a culture of linguistic impoverishment.  Were they talking about how "that Homer dude was, so totally, like, an actual historical dude -- like there's just no friggin' way he was some, y'know, one big name for all the massively huge Greek poems that got written, like, a long time ago" -- well, I'd weep for how that sentence was constructed, but at least a conversation about an intelligent topic would be taking place.

Sadly, I do see an obvious decline in the mental capacity of our overall culture, as well as an overall diminishment in our ability to convey the musings of our minds.

For an excellent couple of talks on this subject (and others), I'd recommend Fr. Jonathan Tobias' talks on "Orthodoxy, Pop Culture, and Insanity," PART ONE and PART TWO.
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« Reply #24 on: April 28, 2008, 03:45:53 PM »

^I'm interested in that by the title alone.  Smiley  I don't so much think kids are lacking capacity as they just don't get enough exposure to non-colloquial English.  Unfortunately, our culture emphasizes informality to the point that just speaking a proper sentence will win you some nasty looks.  I have a friend who accuses me of using "ten dollar words" if I say something polysyllabic.  Some people see articulate speech as haughty, I think because they feel dumb for not knowing what a particular word means.  Hence, you have people who are not willing to speak outside of colloquial English for fear of sounding snobbish. 
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« Reply #25 on: April 28, 2008, 03:59:37 PM »

Good post, DavidBryan! I have a sneaking suspicion the decline of literacy  as well as communication patterns, are related  in part  to the influence of television and other media. I didn't grow up with television and was always puzzled by the vocabulary and the artificial, affected intonation patterns of young people around me. Not so long ago, I had the opportunity to watch some TV, and the mystery was solved. They're merely imitating what they see and hear on TV.

Another factor  is that the arts are becoming less emphasized, as the fields of science and technology gain in popularity. It's harder for an arts major to find a good job upon graduation (unless he is able to do post graduate studies), and so the arts and literacy are viewed as impractical and unworthy of consideration.
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« Reply #26 on: April 28, 2008, 04:33:45 PM »

Nothing wrong with that... as long as those darn kids stay off your lawn.   laugh

I've got a crotchety, old, lawn obsessed guy in my neighborhood.  The middle school bus stop has been in front of his house for 30 years.  He's been known to turn on his sprinklers if the kids step on the grass.  I'm sure those 13 yo's are using some choice, grammatically incorrect language on him.
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« Reply #27 on: April 28, 2008, 04:39:25 PM »

  I'm sure those 13 yo's are using some choice, grammatically incorrect language on him.
And back in the day, I would've use gasoline to spell them out on his lawn.  Cheesy
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« Reply #28 on: April 28, 2008, 04:43:15 PM »

Our next door neighbor also seems to be lawn-obsessed.  Last summer when I was hugely pregnant and couldn't mow, Mr. Y got sick, then we had two lawnmowers break on us and we couldn't mow for three weeks.  Fortunately, we live just outside the city limits so we missed the grass length limit there, but we found out the county has a grass length of 10 inches (I think... that sounds right).  I'm pretty sure she was the friendly neighbor who had the county gentlemen come out with their rulers and issue us a notice.  I wanted to lumber over there with my gigantic belly and sick husband and ask her to pick which broken mower we could mow the yard with.  I tell ya, those hormones are somethin'!
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« Reply #29 on: April 28, 2008, 04:52:54 PM »

Our next door neighbor also seems to be lawn-obsessed.  Last summer when I was hugely pregnant and couldn't mow, Mr. Y got sick, then we had two lawnmowers break on us and we couldn't mow for three weeks.  Fortunately, we live just outside the city limits so we missed the grass length limit there, but we found out the county has a grass length of 10 inches (I think... that sounds right).  I'm pretty sure she was the friendly neighbor who had the county gentlemen come out with their rulers and issue us a notice.  I wanted to lumber over there with my gigantic belly and sick husband and ask her to pick which broken mower we could mow the yard with.  I tell ya, those hormones are somethin'!
Stop yer gripin' and cut the grass!  Grin
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« Reply #30 on: April 28, 2008, 05:00:13 PM »

Quote
Nothing wrong with that... as long as those darn kids stay off your lawn.   laugh

(kidnaps one of Gabriel's hundreds of possibly existent cats) Grin
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« Reply #31 on: April 28, 2008, 05:07:49 PM »

Stop yer gripin' and cut the grass!  Grin

Yes sir!  I did last week, actually.  This week was Mr. Y's turn.  Smiley
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« Reply #32 on: April 28, 2008, 05:09:15 PM »

Good post, DavidBryan! I have a sneaking suspicion the decline of literacy  as well as communication patterns, are related  in part  to the influence of television and other media. I didn't grow up with television and was always puzzled by the vocabulary and the artificial, affected intonation patterns of young people around me. Not so long ago, I had the opportunity to watch some TV, and the mystery was solved. They're merely imitating what they see and hear on TV.

Another factor  is that the arts are becoming less emphasized, as the fields of science and technology gain in popularity. It's harder for an arts major to find a good job upon graduation (unless he is able to do post graduate studies), and so the arts and literacy are viewed as impractical and unworthy of consideration.
This is why it is so important to teach the kids to watch what is artistic (Lost, for instance) and avoid what is lowest-common-denominator (American Idol and such rubbish). It's not television that is to blame, it's a lack of appreciation for the arts. When gems like Across the Universe sell far fewer tickets than National Treasure 2, it's not hard to see why Hollywood would rather put out another National Treasure, another Pirates of the Caribbean, another--sigh--Spiderman. Art makes us feel; pulp fiction makes us numb. The truth is that generally people would rather feel nothing at all than experience the full range of emotions that make us human.

A while back, my wife and I were at my parents' house, and they put in Spiderman 3. It was as horrible as you'd expect it to be. The worst part was that the actors didn't even try as hard as they did in the first two, which--if you are one of the lucky few who haven't seen them--is not very hard at all. We were trying to be nice about it but they could see we weren't really having a good time. My mom asked me, "So I guess you don't like this movie," to which I replied, "Not really. They keep telling me what's happening instead of showing me. It's like they don't want me to think." My mom said, "That's why I like it." Sigh.

No thought; no feeling; no life. That's how so many choose to live. While that's true, the television and movie executives will make millions producing pulp fiction. We need more art, but more importantly, we need more art to sell--and not just to the art world, but to the masses. We need for everyone to see and hear art in their everyday lives, and not just to experience it, but to create it as well. Pipe dream? Yeah, prolly. Whatev, man.
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« Reply #33 on: April 28, 2008, 05:22:01 PM »

^Fo shizzle.   Grin

Seriously, though, I agree that Hollywood will keep pumping out the brainless crud as long as someone keeps paying to see it.  Fortunately there are still a few writers and directors who are interested in making artistic films.  What's been fun to see lately are the actors who are getting fed up with junk scripts and are writing their own and directing their own films.  I'm not a big fan of George Clooney as an actor, but his directing of Good Night and Good Luck was pretty good.  I'd like to see more actors take up good film as their pet cause instead of the usual (AHEMCOUGHTimRobbinsAHEM).
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« Reply #34 on: April 28, 2008, 05:23:17 PM »

I totally agree with you, ytterbiumanalyst, that we all need more exposure to, and appreciation of, the arts.  However, one can teach one's children about the arts (and culture in general ) without a television,believe it or not. We did not have a television in our home and my parents also did not grow up with one, but both parents made sure we read  the classics (we had a huge library), and were exposed to good art and music. I know many children who grew up without television, and, thanks to caring, nurturing parents, they are intelligent, cultured members of society who often have richer vocabularies and a more lively imagination than those who grew up with the tube as their nanny.
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« Reply #35 on: April 28, 2008, 05:51:27 PM »

I have a big vocabulary.  I say this not to pump myself up or boast; it is a fact.  As a teacher of languages, it is a byproduct of so much study over many years.  My students often become irritated with my choice of words and with the grammatical precision with which I speak.  I do this not to annoy but to set an example that the language we use and the way in which we use it says a lot about who we are and leaves impressions on people.  I often tell this to my students.  For all of my students who want to be rich and make it in the business world, I tell them that the language that the market uses is not the English of the street or MTV, but the high British English.  Businessmen from China, India and many third world nations with emerging markets learn British English and go to places like Oxford and Cambridge to study.  This is not coincidence. Thus, it is imperative for them to learn correct usage of words and words that our bigger than simply four letters if only to provide for variety.

However, another reason vocabulary must be stressed is because that ideas are formed by the langauge behind them.  If we reduce our vocabulary and its correct usage, then ideas, even ones fundamental to our culture, will begin to change to the point that they are distorted to the point of meaninglessness.  As long as our kids continue to speak in text, write in text, then the ideas they seek to communicate will also start to be truncated to the point that they no longer have their original meaning. 

Just my $.02.  My students refuse to get this basic concept!  Lord have mercy.
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« Reply #36 on: April 28, 2008, 10:32:54 PM »

(kidnaps one of Gabriel's hundreds of possibly existent cats) Grin
I'm allergic to cats so in the odd event that I ever end up with any, you can have it/them. Wink
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« Reply #37 on: April 28, 2008, 10:47:04 PM »


For an excellent couple of talks on this subject (and others), I'd recommend Fr. Jonathan Tobias' talks on "Orthodoxy, Pop Culture, and Insanity," PART ONE and PART TWO.

 Cool  To all of you that read this thread please do not pass up the links to Father Jonathan's talks.  I encourage you to listen to them.
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« Reply #38 on: April 29, 2008, 10:18:55 AM »

SCAMANDRIUS' WHOLE POST

From one language teacher to another, I thoroughly concur with and applaud your statement.  He speaks the truth!   Smiley
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« Reply #39 on: April 29, 2008, 10:27:28 AM »

From one language teacher to another, I thoroughly concur with and applaud your statement.  He speaks the truth!   Smiley

Thanks for the props, DavidBryan! Grin
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« Reply #40 on: May 02, 2008, 11:38:51 AM »

To jump in at the end and last moment, and as a teacher of student (lower class),
I have to add that many students also do not have it emphasised at home, nor is proper English rewarded.  Unfortunately, too, I have seen many teachers try to connect with students by using their language or not correcting it.  Even I, who can use more vulgar English with friends, do understand the difference and need for standard language and vocabulary.  After all, wasn't it Cicero who said that our world is only as expansive as our ability to comprehend language?

Also, this cycle is often (which btw, I have a huge pet peeve when people pronounce the silent t) reinforced by a massive illiteracy rate among the lower class and in mine observations is expanding to the middle class.  It truly is sickening and even more abhorrent to see society reward this inability!
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« Reply #41 on: May 02, 2008, 12:03:36 PM »

Ok, for the disagreement side, I find it insulting that people imply the thought that using common phraseology is an indicator of lack of mental capacity/ability. I assure you I can talk better than most business men/women when necessary, but I also have no problem talking with people at school or my friends. Its not that the young'ins need to learn to speak proper English 100% of the time, its that they need to know both proper English and common phraseology. I can curse and swear up a storm around my friends as well as anyone, but never once have I uttered a non-professional word in the work place, around my parents, or around the church. Language decisions should be based on the situation, not just a general standard.

Now in common talk:

Ya know, i don't believe that BS at all. Y'all don't know me well enuff to make it sound like I'm stupid or some ****. I can use my brain as good as the next guy and that ain't no lie. My buddies know that i can still talk to them good. We don't need to learn the language, we know it better than you guys could ever imagine. I kick that **** old skool and keep the stuff with my friends between my friends and no where else. I use good english when I'm around other people. You all gotta represent and if you can't then shut ur mouth!

-Nick

P.S. The common talk is not meant to insult or anything, its more for humor value than anything else.
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