Overview of the Room for Debate Blog Series Essay

Overview of the Room for Debate Blog Series Essay

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The Room for Debate series of blog posts between Bryan A. Garner and Robert Lane Greene presents to the reader two distinct views on various topics including that of authority in language, what makes a good and a bad rule, and what the purpose of these rules is. After reading the posts and doing some research on the people they mention, I noticed that the majority of them, whether lexicographers, linguists or writers (descriptivist or prescriptivist), had privileged upbringings and were educated at prestigious universities. The definition of linguistics is, ‘the scientific study of language and its structure’, and the definition of language is, ‘the method of human communication, either spoken or written’. Academics represent only a small percentage of British and American society (British and American English are the two variants mentioned in Room for Debate), and language is something that all humans use, therefore in this essay I will analyse and explore the views of Greene and Garner from a linguistic and social point of view.

In his first post, When Prescriptivists over Prescribe, Greene begins by admitting that there are “a set of standard conventions everyone needs for formal writing and speaking.” which is sociolinguistically logical. A Briton who speaks with a “Received Pronunciation” accent, pronounces the letter ’t’ in the word “Britain”, however someone who speaks with a “Cockney” accent/dialect usually substitutes phonemes with a glottal stop [bɹɪʔən]. Trying to communicate this through written language (graphemes) without using the prescribed ‘standard’ variant, would cause much confusion between different dialect areas, which could negatively impact society due to fellow citizens not being able to communicate effec...


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...to social factors, one has to expect to discover discrimination and unfairness due to human nature, as these things exist in every society in the world.

who, in my opinion, want to be viewed by society as being ‘intelligent’, ‘superior’ or more ‘educated’ than their counterparts.

Well educated Britsh and American ‘prescriptivists’ know how to use Standard English and Standard American English in way that enables them to ‘succeed’ (or at least not be penalised) within their society. However the downside of this, is that nothing is being done about the stigma surrounding “the real-world mess of dialects and slang” which the “often incorrect prescriptivist masses” sneer at so readily.



Works Cited

Thomas Shapiro; Tatjana Meschede; Sam Osoro (February 2013). "The Roots of the Widening Racial Wealth Gap: Explaining the Black-White Economic Divide”

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