LINGUIST List 7.1089

Wed Jul 31 1996

Disc: Non-standard grammar

Editor for this issue: T. Daniel Seely <>


  1. curt fredric woolhiser, Re: Non-standard

Message 1: Re: Non-standard

Date: Wed, 24 Jul 1996 13:26:00 CDT
From: curt fredric woolhiser <>
Subject: Re: Non-standard
Re: vol-7-806

>From: <>
>Subject: Non-standard grammar
>It is a commonly held view among linguists that, linguistically, all
>language varieties are of equal value, and 'standard' languages are no
>'better' than non-standard; however, I wonder if we really 'practise
>what we preach' in this regard. For example, does anyone encourage
>students to submit work in non-standard English, or non-standard
>varieties of other languages? Has anyone tried to get their
>institution to uphold the rights of speakers of non-standard varieties
>not to be penalised for submitting work including aspects of the
>grammar of these varieties? It seems to me that many students are
>penalised for using 'non-standard' grammar - an issue which often gets
>confused with being able to write in a clear style, produce good
>argumentation etc, which is of course quite different. Any views?

Returning to the question that launched last month's discussion on the use
of non-standard language varieties in academic settings, I know of at least
one possible precedent in the English-speaking world. According to Alasdair
Allan (in a 1995 article, "Scots spellin -- Ettlin efter the quantum lowp",
English World-Wide 16:1 61-103), thanks to the intercession of a Prof.
Lyall he was permitted by the Senate of Glasgow University to submit his
doctoral examinations and dissertation in Scots. Admittedly, Scots is a
somewhat special case, since it does have a literary tradition and there
have been some attempts at codification (not to mention the fact that many
would deny that it is a variety of English at all!). I'd be interested to
know if there are any similar examples from other language areas.

Curt F. Woolhiser
Dept. of Slavic Languages
University of Texas
Austin, TX 78713-7217
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