Linguistics Chapter 4 Instructors Manual This Covers Introduction The Concept Standard Language And

Document Type
Homework Help
Book Title
English with an Accent: Language-- Ideology and Discrimination in the United States 2nd Edition
Rosina Lippi-Green
Chapter 4
Instructors Manual
This chapter covers:
An introduction to the concept of a standard language and why the idea of a standard
language is mythical
Some dictionary definitions of standard language and the problems with these definitions
The definitions of standard language as used by laypeople
A description of Preston‟s (1989) study of undergraduates‟ evaluations of “correct”
American English by geographical region, and, based on his results, a layperson‟s
description of a Standard American English speaker
How linguists affect and are affected by standard language ideology
A discussion of the terminology used in the book to refer to standard (and non-standard)
language varieties and racial categories
Sample answers to the questions from the text and the website
From the textbook
1. The Free Online Dictionary's (2009) definition of *SAE is interesting. How does the usage
note relate to the definition? Is it complementary, or contradictory?
Standard American English: The variety of English that is generally acknowledged as the model
for the speech and writing of educated speakers.
Usage Note: People who invoke the term *SAE rarely make clear what they have in mind by it,
and tend to slur over the inconvenient ambiguities that are inherent in the term. Sometimes it is
used to denote the variety of English prescribed by traditional prescriptive norms, and in this
sense it includes rules and usages that many educated speakers don't systematically conform to
in their own speech or writing, such as the rules for use of who and whom. In recent years,
however, the term has more often been used to distinguish the speech and writing of middle-class
educated speakers from the speech of other groups and classes, which are termed nonstandard.
... Thus while the term can serve a useful descriptive purpose providing the context makes its
meaning clear, it shouldn't be construed as conferring any absolute positive evaluation. (N.A.
2. English Plus+ (Bair 2009), a website that offers resources to prepare for the SAT, provides a
definition of *SAE which covers every possibility:
Standard American English, also known as Standard Written English or SWE, is the form
of English most widely accepted as being clear and proper.
Publishers, writers, educators, and others have over the years developed a consensus of
what *SAE consists of. It includes word choice, word order, punctuation, and spelling.
Standard American English is especially helpful when writing because it maintains a
fairly uniform standard of communication which can be understood by all speakers and
users of English regardless of differences in dialect, pronunciation, and usage. This is
why it is sometimes called Standard Written English.
There are a few minor differences between standard usage in England and the United
States, but these differences do not significantly affect communication in the English
Please note that most dictionaries merely report on words that are used, not on their
grammar or usage. Merely because a word appears in a dictionary does not mean that it
is standard.
How does this definition compare to the others quoted in this chapter? How is it different?
Consider the last paragraph especially, which strikes a very different tone. The author seems to
be challenging the authority of dictionaries. Why might that be?
3. Consider two statements:
(2) The fact that a word does not appear in a dictionary means _____.
Can you come up with clear, consistent and factually accurate ways to finish these thoughts? If
not, why not?
(1) The fact that a word appears in a dictionary means that the word has been used by some
group of speakers in some context.
I say this because, to my knowledge, lexicographers do not make up words that they have never
4. In this book I use *SAE to refer to the concept of a standardized, idealized American English.
How does this term fit, or fail to fit? Can you come up with a better solution?
From the website
1. Listen to the samples of Standard American English and Standard British English from the
International Dialects of English Archive. Do these examples match up with your expectations of
what Standard American and British English sound like? Do you hear speech that sounds like
any of these samples where you live?
2. Review the discussion of Dennis Preston’s (1989) research on standard language ideology in
Chapter 4. Then, listen to the speech samples from around the country (Indiana, Mid-Atlantic
states, New England, Colorado, West Coast, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio,
Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Washington, DC, and New York City) from the International
Dialects of English Archive and the Speech Accent Archive. How would each of these samples
rank in a list of the areas where the “most correct” English is spoken? How does your list
compare to Preston’s findings?
3. Chapter 4 provides this definition of the word accent from the Oxford English Dictionary
[Accent is] the mode of utterance peculiar to an individual, locality, or nation, as he has
a slight accent, a strong provincial accent, an indisputably Irish, Scotch, American,
French or German accent.... This utterance consists mainly in a prevailing quality of
tone, or in a peculiar alteration of pitch, but may include mispronunciation of vowels or
consonants, misplacing of stress, and misinflection of a sentence. The locality of a
speaker is generally clearly marked by this kind of accent.
This definition describes accents as being connected to “mispronunciations, misplacing of stress,
and misinflection of sentences.” Listen to the samples of Irish, Scotch, American, French, and
German accents from the International Dialects of English Archive. Do you hear anything that
you would describe as a mispronunciation, misplacing of stress, or misinflection of a sentence?
If so, provide some examples, If not, why not?
4. Chapter 4 also provides the following anecdote from an article examining attitudes about
African American English:
I was once lectured by a retired airline pilot at a wedding reception on the difference
between African American English and Ebonics; he held that the former was a
legitimate language and the latter was that horrible slang you hear on cable TV
(Sclafani 2008: 508).
Listen to some of the clips of African American English from the International Dialects of
English Archive. From what you hear in these samples and what you have learned so far in this
class, how would you respond to the airline pilot’s comment?
1. The reporter in this clip states that OMG, LOL, muffintop, and the heart symbol have been
“given literary legitimacy” by being included in the Oxford English Dictionary. Why do you
think this story made it on national news? What does this story tell you about common language
ideologies in America?
1. Discuss Preston‟s (1989) study that is described in this chapter. Ask each student to interview
5 to 10 participants and ask each participant to rank the 52 states based on where the most
correct” English is spoken. Compile the results from all the students and see how the results
from your area compare to Preston‟s. What are the similarities? What are the differences? What
do the rankings reveal about the language attitudes in your area?
2. Have the students try to find 5 words that they know and/or use that are not in the dictionary,
and then find 5 words that are in the dictionary but are totally unfamiliar to them. Ask them to
compare and contrast these two sets of words. Why do they think the totally unfamiliar words are
in the dictionary while the commonly used words are not?
3. Discuss the myth of Standard American English. Have the students interview a handful of

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