Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - “An advice, ” “a good news”: Errors of Pluralization in Nigerian English

I certainly do not want to get in the middle of this, so consider my remarks on the side, and not trying to take sides.

I learned English by hearing it spoken,-- by my parents, and people around me.

I learned to say, it’s me, if someone said, who’s there

I learned to say, he knows more than me.

And many more constructions, that happen to be wrong. It was very difficult for me to learn, in high school and more likely in college, that these ways of speaking were incorrect since they felt completely right. After all, my parents spoke that way, and so did everyone else.

Now when I answer the phone I say, it’s I, not it’s me. I say, he knows more than I.  I practically cannot say it otherwise since I corrected my students for making those errors for 50 years. You can say my  spoken English is now deformed by the training to use correct, but not idiomatically normal speech in my pedagogy.

I think the answer to the question who is a “native speaker” is one who learns a language by speaking it, whether it is the first or nth language. What we learn in school is correct, but not necessarily normally spoken. And that’s the French I learned, and which at times makes it harder for me to understand the spoken language.

I’ll give an example of weirdness in this. when I moved to Michigan I learned that the store we shopped in for groceries was called meijer’s. that’s what everyone here called it. But the sign on the store is Meijer. I recently learned that Michigan is the only place in the country where the norm is to add ‘s to company names. It dates back, apparently, to when Ford opened a factory here, and people called it Ford’s. since then other establishments came to be assigned the possessive, for no good reason. Now outsiders who move to Michigan, and don’t have that pattern in their speech, say Meijer, where others like me, who learned to say it differently, continue with the inherited misuse.

Language usage is truly weird, and very fascinating.

ken

 

Kenneth Harrow

Dept of English and Film Studies

Michigan State University

619 Red Cedar Rd

East Lansing, MI 48824

517-803-8839

harrow@msu.edu

http://www.english.msu.edu/people/faculty/kenneth-harrow/

 

From: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com> on behalf of "Farooq A. Kperogi" <farooqkperogi@gmail.com>
Reply-To: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Date: Monday 13 March 2017 at 23:25
To: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Subject: Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - “An advice,” “a good news”: Errors of Pluralization in Nigerian English

 

Wole Soyinka famously said, " A tiger does not proclaim his tigritude; he pounces." If you have a need to proclaim your "native speakerness," you probably are not--especially if you don't even know enough to know that "yesteryear" is an invariably singular noun. True native speakers don't say  "yesteryears" even in their unguarded moments. And I am even talking of nonstandard regional varieties. (By the way, I am curious to know which native English dialect you speak.)

 

 In any case, Standard English is the English that is taught in schools, that is codified in grammar books (starting from about the 18th century), that is "curated" in dictionaries, and that is privileged in and popularized by mainstream media. Nothing that is this elaborately systematized, formalized, and methodically learned can be truly "native" to anybody. What is truly "native" is not formally learned; it is acquired. That is why "nativity" isn't always a guarantee of proficiency in Standard English--which is basically a mishmash of a multiplicity of regional dialects. That is also why many native English speakers who aren't self-conscious, methodical learners of the language do poorly in English grammar tests, and why non-native speakers who study English grammar systematically can--and do--teach native English speakers "their" language. Plus, there is a plurality of standard varieties of English, even though there is a notional international standard variety, which is perpetually dynamic.

 

Nor is this unique to English. Modern Standard Arabic, for instance, is (in)famous for its lack of "native speakers." Like English, it's an amalgam of several Arabic regional dialects. It is formally taught in schools and is used in the mass media, but no one speaks it outside formal contexts.

 

 Proclaiming to be a "native speaker" of Standard English has to rank among the most linguistically ignorant statements I've read in a long while.

 

Farooq


Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Journalism & Emerging Media
School of Communication & Media

Social Science Building 

Room 5092 MD 2207

402 Bartow Avenue
Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw, Georgia, USA 30144
Cell: (+1) 404-573-9697
Personal website: www.farooqkperogi.com

Twitter: @farooqkperog

Author of Glocal English: The Changing Face and Forms of Nigerian English in a Global World

"The nice thing about pessimism is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised." G. F. Will

 

On Mon, Mar 13, 2017 at 5:44 PM, Cornelius Hamelberg <corneliushamelberg@gmail.com> wrote:

I am a native speaker of standard English

On Monday, 13 March 2017 22:20:55 UTC+1, Farooq A. Kperogi wrote:

Being a "native English speaker" isn't the same thing as being a speaker of Standard English. They are different. Many native speakers don't speak Standard English; they speak their regional varieties. With education, they learn Standard English. There is, strictly speaking, no native speaker of Standard English.It's a consciously learned variety of English, although it is true that it is made up of parts from different native regional varieties.

 

"Yesteryears" is demonstrably solecistic in Standard English. I don't know the regional native English variety you speak that countenances "yesteryears." My own research tells me "yesteryears" is used mostly by non-native English speakers. Standard English speakers say "days of yesteryear" to pluralize "yesteryear." In fact, all the regional native varieties I am familiar with never say "yesteryears."

 

Farooq


Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Journalism & Emerging Media
School of Communication & Media

Social Science Building 

Room 5092 MD 2207

402 Bartow Avenue
Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw, Georgia, USA 30144
Cell: (+1) 404-573-9697
Personal website: www.farooqkperogi.com

Twitter: @farooqkperog

Author of Glocal English: The Changing Face and Forms of Nigerian English in a Global World

"The nice thing about pessimism is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised." G. F. Will

 

On Mon, Mar 13, 2017 at 2:52 PM, Cornelius Hamelberg <cornelius...@gmail.com> wrote:

Maybe, because I reminise a lot I say Yesteryears although I am absolutely a native speaker and absolutely correct every time I say YESTERYEARS. I visited Izzy Young today, he reminisced a lot about New York etc about two hours, and I reminisced a lot about the Stockholm of yesteryears...

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