Standard English: The Widening Debate

By Tony Bex; Richard J. Watts | Go to book overview

7

STANDARD GRAMMARS, SPOKEN GRAMMARS: SOME EDUCATIONAL IMPLICATIONS

Ronald Carter

To be unable to write Standard English or to use its spoken forms in appropriate public contexts is to be disenfranchised, to be deprived of true citizenship…. Where it is appropriate to use the standard, you use it but there are many uses where other forms, or other languages, are as appropriate…. It is astonishing to reflect that no linguistic theory has ever begun to pose the question of the permissible range of variation within a standard although it is obvious even from the history of English that the range is not fixed.

(McCabe 1990:11)

1

Grammar and speech: Terms and determinations

The following extract from a conversation was recorded as part of the CANCODE research project, 1 a multi-million word computational linguistic research investigation of naturally occurring spoken British English based in the Department of English Studies at the University of Nottingham. The speakers are both educated speakers of English. The setting is an informal one in a village pub on an exceptionally hot summer’s evening in the mid-1990s. The speakers, who are both male, are good friends and are ‘catching up’ on each other’s news, having not spoken at length to each other for some time.

Example dialogue:

1

Are you still playing er

2

Gui-tar

3

Irish music, yeah

4

No I don’t play very much now, no, not at all

5

I thought you were touring the country at one point

6

-149-

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