Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

Grammatical Errors in EFL Graffiti

Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

Grammatical Errors in EFL Graffiti

Article excerpt

Abstract

The new developments in today's life-style and needs have called for a good deal of language change. Due to this reason, language studies often strike fresh grounds. The researcher's interest in this study is to investigate a language variety used in graffiti writing from multiple perspectives. This paper focuses on the grammar of statements written by non-native English speakers, i.e., Jordanian students learning English as a foreign language. The written English statements of graffiti have been videotaped from English medium schools. The collected data have then been transcribed, coded and analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively. The study demonstrates that Jordanian learners of English as a foreign language when compared to English native speakers have developed a kind of ownership of English that enables them to simplify its grammar by playing with its rules affected by the internet communication, globalization, and SMS texting. The spill-over effect of applying grammatical rules in English on statements of graffiti is, in fact, due to some of these trends. The results reveal that graffiti writers commit additional errors due to mother tongue interference, overgeneralization, conformity with native speakers, and ignorance.

Keywords: Graffiti, SMS texting, grammatical errors, simplification, semantic distortion, concord, contraction, mother tongue interference, native speaker trends, linguistic creativity

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1. Introduction

The new developments in today's life-style and needs have called for a good deal of language change. Due to this reason, language studies often strike fresh grounds. Linguists and sociolinguists agree that any language contains a number of varieties which have evolved in order to serve different functions in society and to fulfill the needs of their speakers. Quirk (1966, p. 19) maintains that the uses to which language is put are as various as the people and societies that use it. He also maintains that every particular use of language is to some extent reflected in it. Crystal (1988, p. 378), on the other hand, goes as far as saying that the major aims of linguistic studies is the investigation of the factors that give 'promotion' and 'maintenance' to the existence of varieties within a language and providing descriptions of their use. He adds that "these studies have an intrinsic intellectual interest, as they provide a means of observing change in contemporary culture and civilization." Such studies, he adds, can also provide practical assistance when they clarify the reasons behind the use of unfamiliar language, consequently, they may provide a perspective that can be of great help in resolving cases of a transitional linguistic conflict (Crystal, 1988, p. 379).

The major objective of the present study is to investigate some grammatical characteristics of the language of Jordanians' English 'graffiti' and to find out whether this language variety differs from common-core English, on the one hand, and from other varieties, on the other.

The word "graffiti" owes its name to the first method in which it was produced - scratching or carving (Blume, 1985). It is related, both linguistically and in content, with the name of a particular technique of mural painting, that is of 'sgraffito'. The common English usage of the word has actually evolved to include "Pictorial or written inscriptions for which no official provision is made and which is largely unwanted and which are written on the most various publicly acceptable surfaces normally by anonymous individuals (but sometimes by groups)" (Blume, 1985, p. 137). As a matter of fact, the word 'graffiti' is now used to mean any wall writing or pictures or symbols or markings of any kind on any surface anywhere no matter what the motivation of the writer (Dundees, 1966). Graffiti abounds in the world around us, and it is visible on almost every conceivable surface, even on some that defy all logic. …

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