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

Im with you in broad outlines.



Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.


-------- Original message --------
From: "Farooq A. Kperogi" <farooqkperogi@gmail.com>
Date: 16/03/2017 14:59 (GMT+00:00)
To: usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - "An advice, " "a good news": Errors of Pluralization in Nigerian English


On Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 1:16 AM, Emeagwali, Gloria (History) <emeagwali@ccsu.edu> wrote:

So Standard English has a shelf life. Right? 

Elizabethan English was standard in its day but  fell out of fashion, somewhat.

Nope. There was no "standard" English in Elizabethan times. There were several regional dialects of the language, as there are now, but none was purposively privileged and codified as the "standard." Shakespeare wrote in the London dialect, although his grammar and orthography, like those of his contemporaries, weren't always consistent since there was no conscious codification of grammar and spelling at the time. He didn't even spell his name in a consistent manner. He variously spelled it as "Shakspe," "Shakspere," Shaksper," "Shakspeare" and "Shakespeare." Eighteenth-century grammarians and printers preferred the last one, and that's what we know today.

The idea of a "standard English," that is, the overt codification of the language through grammar books and dictionaries, didn't start until the 18th century, although the term "standard English" didn't emerge until the 19th century. In other words, Shakespeare antedated Standard English by at least a century. 

What came to be known as "standard" English, from the 19th century on, is, of course, no more than the arbitrary social dialect of the dominant class. That's the Marxist in me speaking. But the pragmatist in me also sees the utility in having some form of uniform standards of usage, spelling, and grammar to aid mutual intelligibility across vast swathes of the world. I think that's the core of Ken's intervention. The various dialects of a common language can become mutually unintelligible over time, so a "standard" version of the language in the service of broad communicative inclusivity often helps.

But you are right that standards aren't fixed in time and space; they perpetually evolve, and will continue to do so. A language that does not evolve sooner or later dies. That's a universal linguistic truth. But this fact is no reason for linguistic anarchy, in my opinion. At any point in time, for purely communicative reasons, we need a set of formal rules to guide usage, at least for formal contexts.

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
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

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