Lesson 1 - background

What is
Standardized English
1.3.1 - READING
  1. Using the term "standardized English" reflects the important reality that powerful people and institutions, including the media, are involved in decisions about when and how to standardize English.
  2. Standardization is not an inherent characteristic of language but rather "an acquired or deliberately and artificially imposed characteristic."
  3. If any language or language variety has a prestigious label, it is only because that type of language is spoken by socially, economically, and politically powerful people and not due to any independent linguistic qualities.
Quick Discussion
College Student 1

What aspects of your English 'did your educators praise or correct in your speech and writing? Does this tell us something about the features of standardized English?

1.3.5 - Definition
  1. Poplack, Van Herk, and Harvie (2002) surveyed grammar books from 1577 to 1898 and found immense variability in which topics were covered and which rules were taught.
  2. Lynn (2009) contends that the notion of a literary standard is an innovation of only the last 300 years. Lynn provides examples of nonstandardized writing in the canon of English literature, demonstrating that authors who penned these literary works often did not follow the same linguistic conventions that students learn today.
  3. In the contemporary educational system, grammar books and style manuals vary greatly in their methods and the materials they cover.
  4. Many textbooks do not really specify how standardized or formal English differs from nonstandard varieties and rather take the "you know it when you see it" approach.
What is Standardized English ?
1.3.6 - School English
  1. School English is the type of Standardized English that is called for when students are at school, just as business English is the standardized variety used in the business sector.
  2. "DON'T MUMBLE" Students are often encouraged to be articulate, and not to mumble, although they may not always understand what such directives mean. While there is no specific definition for what it means to be articulate and not to mumble, the concept refers to clearly producing all of the sounds of a word and pronouncing them in phonetically standardized ways
  3. Final consonant blends [sk, nd, ts, kt] tend to be specific linguistic environments where mumbling can easily be perceived as they are often not produced in English words. As such, words, like [desk] may be pronounced as [dess], [mask] as [mass], [abstract] as [abstrak], [walking] as [walkin'], etc. Also, the article [an] might be pronounced as [a] as in [One day, I saw "a" eagle].
Some Features of School English
1.3.7 - School English
  1. "DON'T WRITE LIKE YOU TALK " is a common way of describing school English writing. When students write like they talk, they will be transferring forms [sentence fragments, overuse of the passive voice, nonstandardized subject-verb agreement, verb tenses, adjectives and adverbs, double or multiple negatives, pronouns, etc.] that are not accepted in school writing.
  2. Not writing like one talks includes using academic vocabulary although students may not understand how their everyday vocabulary is different from the vocabulary that is expected to be used in school settings. School English, both written and oral , tends to use vocabulary that is more literal than colloquial such as [entrance] for [door], [employ] rather than [use], [collaborate ] rather than [work together], [acquire] rather than [get], etc.
  3. In addition to school-specific vocabulary, academic jargon is found across the educational spectrum.
Some Features of School English
1.3.7 - School English
  1. Tone of voice can convey a range of emotions, including enthusiasm, anger, anxiety, and boredom. Although explicitly teaching tone is overlooked in education, intonation patterns in standardized English are closely related to politness or emotion. Students who are less familiar with standardized patterns of intonation may inadvertently express boredom, disinterest, or displeasure.
  2. For example, students may frequently produce the final hight-rising intonation pattern, that in standardized English, is used for questions. A student who is heard saying [MY NAME IS IS JENNY? AND I'M IN SIXTH GRADE?] may be thought of by some adults to be uncertain, approval-seeking, silly, nervous, or unintelligent, rather than simply speaking with an intonation pattern that has become widespread among her peer group.
  3. Students are also often asked to check their volume, pitch, and/or rate of speech. Many are urged to make a distinction between their inside and outside voices, and educators discourage such behavior as yelling, whining, and speaking in a high pitch, speaking too slowly, too quickly, too loudly, or too softly.
  4. Students may be perceived as rude when they answer [yeah] instead [yes or yes sir/ma'am], [uh-uh] instead [no, no sir/ma'am],[Huh?] or [What?] instead of [Excuse me?]. They are discouraged from using filler words such as [like], [um].
Don't take that tone with me!
Some Features of School English
1.3.9 - Privileges of Standardized English
  1. Standardized English-speaking students can usually be assured that the books, magazines, newspapers, and other media they encounter at school will be in the type of English they are already familiar with.
  2. Standardized English-speaking students can usually be assured that they will not be mocked or teased for when they pronounce their words.
  3. Standardized English-speaking students can usually be assured that they will not be thought of as unintelligent because of how they talk.
  4. Standardized English-speaking students can usually be assured that their test instruction and materials will be written in the English they are already familiar with.
  5. Standardized English-speaking students can usually be assured that most of their educators will communicate with them in the type of English they are already familiar with.
  6. Standardized English-speaking students can usually be assured that their pronunciation, intonation, and sentence structure will not interfere with their ability to be assessed accurately, to interact with authority figures, or later in life to obtain housing or be hired for a job.
The Privileges of Standardized English
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