Bad Language: Are Some Words Better Than Others?

Paperback | September 29, 2007

byEdwin Battistella

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Is today's language at an all-time low? Are pronunciations like cawfee and chawklit bad English? Is slang like my bad or hook up improper? Is it incorrect to mix English and Spanish, as in Yo quiero Taco Bell? Can you write Who do you trust? rather than Whom do you trust? Linguist EdwinBattistella takes a hard look at traditional notions of bad language, arguing that they are often based in sterile conventionality. Examining grammar and style, cursing, slang, and political correctness, regional and ethnic dialects, and foreign accents and language mixing, Battistella discusses the strong feelings evoked by language variation, from objections to the pronunciation NU-cu-lar to complaints about bilingualeducation. He explains the natural desire for uniformity in writing and speaking and traces the association of mainstream norms to ideas about refinement, intelligence, education, character, national unity and political values. Battistella argues that none of these qualities is inherently connectedto language. It is tempting but wrong, Battistella argues, to think of slang, dialects and nonstandard grammar as simply breaking the rules of good English. Instead, we should view language as made up of alternative forms of orderliness adopted by speakers depending on their purpose. Thus we can study thestructure and context of nonstandard language in order to illuminate and enrich traditional forms of language, and make policy decisions based on an informed engagement. Re-examining longstanding and heated debates, Bad Language will appeal to a wide spectrum of readers engaged and interested in the debate over what constitutes proper language.

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From the Publisher

Is today's language at an all-time low? Are pronunciations like cawfee and chawklit bad English? Is slang like my bad or hook up improper? Is it incorrect to mix English and Spanish, as in Yo quiero Taco Bell? Can you write Who do you trust? rather than Whom do you trust? Linguist EdwinBattistella takes a hard look at traditional notio...

Edwin Battistella is the Dean of Arts and Letters and Professor of English at Southern Oregon University.

other books by Edwin Battistella

Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 5.51 × 8.11 × 0.71 inPublished:September 29, 2007Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019533745X

ISBN - 13:9780195337457

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"The beauty of this book is that it responds to widely held beliefs about the nature of language--that there exist fairly monolithic language standards that people ought to aim for. ... The author of Bad Language astutely recognizes that these beliefs provide fertile ground for introducingfundamental perspectives and findings from linguistic research to students, scholars in other fields, and the general public."--Carolyn Adger, Center for Applied Linguistics