LOVES WIFE, BUT.

Today’s Dear Abby nicely complements yesterday’s snooty deplorer:

DEAR ABBY: I am happily married to the most wonderful woman in the world. I feel blessed to have her in my life and to be a part of hers.
I am not an elitist; I like to think I am a humble person. But I do believe in correct grammar, proper pronunciation and the eloquent employment of words in conversation. My wife did not have the benefit of an upbringing in which these were practiced. She comes from the “ain’t got no” school of speaking.
I can accept this at home, but in business as a corporate executive, I am embarrassed by her low verbal skills.
I would never hurt or shame my wife by correcting her in front of anyone. The obvious answer is to bring it up in private. I did that, but she is not inclined to improve her word skills. She has mentioned a friend who tried to help her in this endeavor, but it went nowhere. I wish I could do something. Any ideas on how I can help? — WORDSMITH IN ILLINOIS

Abby (Jeanne Phillips) is nicer than I would be about it, but she has the right idea:

You say you have a happy marriage and your wife is the most wonderful woman in the world. Nobody has everything. Love her for who she is and stop worrying about how others perceive her.

Again, I am mystified that people care so much about this stuff that this fellow, who thinks his wife is the most wonderful woman in the world, nevertheless gives her grief because her English doesn’t meet his high standards. Personal to WORDSMITH: yes, you are an elitist. Get over it.

Comments

  1. “Low verbal skills”? Anyone want to question the Elitist Wordsmith on that construction?
    I agree with you & “Abby” on this one. In my mind, the only adults who can justifiably correct the grammar of other adults are folks who are paid to do so (i.e. editors, professors, or other individuals who are paid to correct grammar). Correcting your own children is fine: its a parent’s prerogative. But any adult who corrects the grammar of other grown coworkers, friends, family, etc. is being obnoxiously rude, in my opinion. The correcting peeves me more than any grammar error.

  2. And that should be “IT’S a parent’s prerogative,” of course. I wouldn’t want to give anyone reason to correct me. 😉

  3. And it should be LESS verbal skills. No, I’m sorry. Fewer verbal skills. I know there’s a rule there, somewhere…

  4. He comes off as a tool (how nice of him to “accept” his wife at home!), but it’s the lack of self-awareness that is really astonishing.
    “Dear Abby: I judge people by how they speak. I feel that other folks who judge people by how they speak will get the wrong impression about my wife, whom I know to be intelligent and wonderful despite her diction. How can I make her change how she speaks?”

  5. Maybe those doom-criers were right about intermarriage after all. The guy should have married someone who shared his religion.

  6. This is a social issue and I can perfectly understand how he feels. It’s ok for people whose wives can speak and write perfectly, but despite his love for his wife, this man obviously feels unconsciously that he’s “married down”. It’s nothing to do with grammar and a lot to do with society. It would be the same if his wife didn’t have table manners and embarrassed him at a swank restaurant.
    That’s the way our society is and while you may rail against the way this man thinks, he is only being sensitive to things that society conditions us to be sensitive to.

  7. parvomagnus says:

    Well, since his snootiness is basically an unprovoked first strike…
    I did that, but she is not inclined to improve her word skills. She has mentioned a friend who tried to help her in this endeavor, but it went nowhere.
    Is it really an ‘endeavor’ if the endeavoring party doesn’t care to endeavor? Or is ‘endeavor’ an ‘as-a-corporate-executive’ synonym for ‘matter’?

  8. I don’t think he’s being snooty. The “ain’t got no” school of speech is pretty repulsive. I knew that from a young age, growing up in the south, and avoided that particular construction.
    The basic reason I feel this way is that proper English — or a reasonable approximation thereof — is the lingua franca across dialects in our country (and others). Our “street” speech, if you will, varies quite a bit but “standard” English bridges the gap.
    When someone goes to a business engagement, for example, there’s likely to be a lot of diversity and it’s important that attendees — out of politeness, if nothing else — try to communicate as effectively as possible across cultural boundaries.
    For example: let’s say she goes to a dinner party, and meets his regional CEO over Indian operations. Would the “ain’t got no” speech pattern be appropriate in that circumstance?
    The exception I’d make for going with “ain’t got no” is that some people pull it off with the force of exceptional charm, grace, and wit. She may be such a person. But to refuse to buckle in all circumstances is bull-headed and impolite at best.

  9. Bruno van Wayenburg says:

    Dear JMW, I’m from a part of the world where language changes every few hundred kilometers (guess where), so when we travel farther than that, we oldworlders tend to converse in -sometimes rather awfully accented- English. It mostly works out just fine.
    I find it hard to believe that the occasional drawl, ‘ain’t no’, ‘y’all’ or ‘Bawston´ really stands in the way of ‘communicating as effectively as possible across culstural boundaries’

  10. michael farris says:

    Site outage ate my much longer, better comment:
    I kind of sympathize with the guy. If I understand correctly, he’s not objecting to her domestic language usage, but her carrying that over into social situations where it’s inappropriate.
    I’m a great fan of “I ain’t got no” or “is we?” and consider them perfect English grammar. But when I’m meeting an ambassador (something I actually do from time to time in my work) I’m not going to say “I aint’ got no” anymore than I’ll show up in a dirty t-shirt and flip flops.
    I don’t regard avoiding some forms in a formal context as speaking more ‘correctly’, but as observing formal social conventions, like using the right fork or not eating mashed potatoes with your fingers.
    Either his wife should broaden her linguistic horizons and use context appropriate language or be content to be left out of social gatherings where her behavior could reflect poorly on him.

  11. That’s the way our society is and while you may rail against the way this man thinks, he is only being sensitive to things that society conditions us to be sensitive to.
    I find it possible both to rail against the way our society is and to mock people who unthinkingly accept the “rules” of that society even at the expense of their beloved spouse.
    Either his wife should broaden her linguistic horizons and use context appropriate language or be content to be left out of social gatherings where her behavior could reflect poorly on him.
    “Reflect poorly on him”? How exactly does someone’s dialect “reflect poorly” on their spouse? If he needs to use Fancy English for his fancy job, fine. I don’t see how his wife comes into it. I myself am happily married to the most wonderful woman in the world, and believe me, if anyone had a problem with her the way she is, I would have a problem with that person.

  12. A. Crown says:

    I have an accent that makes my neighbour squint every time I open my mouth. She just knows she’s going to have trouble understanding me. A foreign accent can be useful, charming, whatever, but it is the one accent that nobody wants to preserve.

  13. jamessal says:

    “Etiquette” “Social Conventions” — I’m reading “Large Scale Snobbishness.” Maybe you have to accommodate from time to time, but certainly not when it comes to your wife.

  14. jamessal says:

    it is the one accent that nobody wants to preserve.
    Italian, right? It’s gotta be Italian.

  15. A. Crown says:

    Italian? English (I live in Norway). But ok, maybe I should try for Italian.

  16. I’m currently trying to teach a ten yr old a semblance of social manners. This involves correcting her speech so that she uses the proper names of things (drainer v. colander, etc.) and a recognizable grammar and pronunciation. However, she’s ten and this is a parent’s job. But it does embarrass me when she speaks poorly in public, as I feel it is a reflection on my inability to teach her socially acceptable behavior and word usage.
    Poor word use and grammar in social contexts make people seem to be less intelligent than they may be. I know that intelligent, well-spoken conversation was one of the things I looked for in a partner, and it was a make-or-break issue early in the relationship. Traits of a partner are seen to reflect upon preferences of the other party, and I completely understand where the man is coming from. In my social circle, serious questions are raised about why are you with *them* if they speak in such a manner as it makes them appear less intelligent, and it would be unfair to a partner who doesn’t understand the “rules” among this group where word-play is the most common form of entertainment. (yes, it’s highbrow. We’re a bunch of geeks. I tried it once – seriously dating someone who didn’t get modes and nuances in English. They didn’t get 3/4ths the jokes at a party and felt left out and laughed at. Won’t do that to a person again.)

  17. jamessal says:

    I was joking about Italian, of course. But English? My eye and Betty Martin! I’m in New Jersey, and I’m quite fond of English accents.

  18. A. Crown says:

    What are you giving away about yourself if you say ‘Bawston’ for Boston? To a foreign ear it sounds quite cool.

  19. jamessal says:

    Just that you’re from there, really, and probably not too educated. Locals also drop their ars.

  20. jamessal says:

    “Party” becomes “potty.”

  21. It would be a shame if we lost all regional dialects and decided that the only way to speak properly is in the manner of a TV anchorman.
    If his wife ain’t got something, she ain’t got it. Everyone knows what she means. Maybe he should’ve married a less-wonderful woman and held out for the grammar Nazi. They’d probably both be happier. Right now, she ain’t got nothin’ but a judgemental, self-absorbed d-bag who thinks he’s smarter than he probably is.
    But I’m cynical this morning…

  22. Maybe I went too far there — he might be a great guy who’s just overly concerned about how he looks in social settings. However, I contend that if he’s working for people who deny him business/promotions based on their opinion of his wife’s education, he seems to be backing the wrong horse. His wife will be there for him in his old age (assuming she has the patience), his company will give him a gold watch and a kick in the backside as soon as he’s outlived his usefulness to them.
    Family first.

  23. probably not too educated
    Such an inference is not reasonable without further context. A Triple Eagle (BC High, Boston College, BC Law) or a JD from Harvard Law School is perfectly possible in the local business / political community.

  24. “Party” becomes “potty.”
    It’s more complicated than that. Boston English has caught-cot merger, but does not have father-bother merger. So, even though the /r/ is lost, the vowels are distinct.

  25. I’m with you, derek.

  26. A. Crown says:

    So, even though the /r/ is lost, the vowels are distinct.
    I see only the advantages of the English/Bostonian ‘r’. How do they say squirrel, two syllables or one?

  27. michael farris says:

    Where does the husband mention accent?
    I’m understanding the letter as a question of register, namely that his wife is stuck in a colloquial register that clashes with social functions he’s obliged to attend.
    Of course the letter gives very little real information* and I think we’re all having to add in context to have it make sense.
    If he just doesn’t like her accent, then screw him. But if his complaint is about her refusal to match her register to the social context then I think his complaint is valid.
    *According to my favorite advice columnist, Dan Savage, typical letters to advice columnists tend toward the long, rambling and incoherent and usually require massive editing for length and coherence.

  28. Terry Collmann says:

    How do they say squirrel, two syllables or one?
    Skwiwwoo, if you’re from London, where we do final-syllable l-vocalisation as well (or wew).

  29. The man is in a diffiult situation. Derek says : “I contend that if he’s working for people who deny him business/promotions based on their opinion of his wife’s education, he seems to be backing the wrong horse.”
    Be reasonable, Derek. He may very well not have the option of qutting, and I for one can understand perfectly how he must feel in social/business situations.
    It is intersting how the general trend of the comments is to say “he must simply accept her intransigeance about it.” How about saying she is an obstinate person who refuses to understand his problem about her speech ?
    Michael Farris expresses my view better than I could ! “I don’t regard avoiding some forms in a formal context as speaking more ‘correctly’, but as observing formal social conventions, like using the right fork or not eating mashed potatoes with your fingers.”
    And finally, LH, you are consistent in your views, but can’t you imagine, and perhaps feel some sympathy, with the feelings of the man with his wife in a business environment?

  30. Arfur Crown says:

    Skwiwwoo, if you’re from London,
    I’m from London so of course I was brought up to say skwiw-woo. Midwesterners such as my first wife say, I think, squerl or some such 1-syllable pronunciation. At any rate, we were incompatible.

  31. jamessal says:

    “probably not too educated
    Such an inference is not reasonable without further context.”
    Of course. I was just relaying the stereotype, as I understand it.

  32. And finally, LH, you are consistent in your views, but can’t you imagine, and perhaps feel some sympathy, with the feelings of the man with his wife in a business environment?
    Not really. I am assuming that the worst he has to fear is people sneering behind his back. If he’s afraid he’ll get fired because his wife don’t talk good, he really should get another job.

  33. A. Crown says:

    I’m with Language Hat on this. The guy’s such a spineless nervous wreck he’s probably going to get fired in the end anyway. He’ll want his wife to still be around then, ain’t or no ain’t.

  34. The guy’s such a spineless nervous wreck he’s probably going to get fired in the end anyway.
    If she doesn’t divorce him first…

  35. I’m astonished at the continued assumption that the man is wholly at fault.
    “If he’s afraid he’ll get fired because his wife don’t talk good, he really should get another job.”
    “The guy’s such a spineless nervous wreck he’s probably going to get fired in the end anyway.”
    I wish I could shout in majescule … but I’ll ask the question(s) anyway:
    Why is the man totally in the wrong?
    Why shouldn’t the wife try to adapt to the situation (he deems) necessary to ameliorate his social/business situation ?
    Is this sexist/linguistic nonsense? )-:
    What if it was reversed – the man’s diction embarassed the wife ?

  36. Presumably he knew how she talked before he married her. Commenter Sisuile above says “I know that intelligent, well-spoken conversation was one of the things I looked for in a partner, and it was a make-or-break issue early in the relationship.” That’s fine; we’re all entitled to our issues. But if you’re going to accept a partner, it’s not fair to then turn around and insist they take diction courses. The wife is apparently happy with herself the way she is; the husband should be too, or he shouldn’t have married her. Conversely, if she’d been talking “correctly” when they got married and then started talking in a “substandard” way and refused to switch back, she’d be at fault.

  37. It’s just the competitive world we grow up in from the time we’re born–even married couples are competing constantly–his wife saying “ain’t” is just his oneupmanship picking point against his classier-than-he-is (in charm and looks, I’ll betcha) wife–I’ll also betcha, if you asked her what her peeve is with him she’ll give you more than a grammatical-illiteracy-bother response–“My husband’s a pompous ass”–and he’ll respond, of course, in the privacy of their bedroom (where the problem may have originated–“Honey, I ain’t in the mood tonight,”) “Wifey, dear, you should never use a contraction possessively”–and he is certainly very possessive, ain’t he?
    And the diplomat–hey, maybe diplomats should meet each other in teeshirts and jeans–or how about just plain naked, which most diplomats’s constituents may be: naked, hungry, and homeless–AIN’T that the truth!
    I was taught before I left for “grammer” school by my librarian “grammer” not to EVER use “ain’t.” When I got to “grammer” school, damn, I found out every kid in the school used “ain’t.” Ain’t just appears in your playground language–it’s in the classroom where “ain’t” will get you ostracized and sent to the back row with the “real” language experts. “Grammer! Sure I got me a grammer and a granpa, too; ain’t we all?”
    Dear Abby in a growlingwolf’s clothing
    Ur fiend in language and in song (“ain’t” is approved grammar when male or female are singin’ the Blues)–and in appreciation of “Dear Abby” all these long years now–how many Abigails have we survived!
    thegrowlingwolf
    PS: L Hat, your descriptive/prescriptive post was the cat’s meow, speaking of archaic vernacular.

  38. I would be a lot more inclined to see things from the guy’s point of view if he had written “Dear Abby: I find that often people fail to appreciate my wife’s true wonderfulness because, alas, they judge her unfairly by her speech patterns. She doesn’t seem to care, but I want to help her. What can I do?” instead of “Dear Abby: My wife talks like an ignorant fool. I’ve learned to go against all I was raised to believe in and tolerate it at home, but it embarrasses me elsewhere. She doesn’t seem to care, but I’m tired of her dragging me down. How can I make her change?”

  39. robert berger says:

    Possibly this man could pull a Professor
    Higgins and improve her speech with slow and
    patient work. Look what happened to Audrey Hepburn in MY Fair Lady!

  40. robert berger says:

    Possibly this man could pull a Professor
    Higgins and improve her speech with slow and
    patient work. Look what happened to Audrey Hepburn in MY Fair Lady!

  41. i agree with matt. i can understand where he’s coming from but the way it’s presented is a bit harsh.
    though some of the responses are potentially a bit harsh as well. he shouldn’t care so much, but i can’t bring myself to care too much about him caring too much.

  42. Isn’t the plot of My Fair Lady kinda creepy by modern standards? Not as much as Daddy Long Legs, but still.
    Though, since this is LanguageHat, it and Pygmalion are full of phonetics fun. This page has a screen capture of Higgins’ notebook in Visible Speech. I haven’t found one, though, of the equally interesting pull-down vowel chart (with mahogany case!) in his study, which features alternating lines of Bell’s Visible Speech and Sweet’s Broad Romic. You can see it clearly when he’s doing the 130 vowel sounds with a tuning fork in his hand, though I don’t have a DVD myself.

  43. I’m reminded a bit of My Fair Lady (what a bloody prescriptivist show that was, but singable nevertheless). The girl stopped speaking Cockney but still shocked everyone with her most improper of manners.
    I really doubt that Harvard graduates of the nation’s top investment-banking firms will see the guy as someone inferior or unworthy of promotion if simply because his wife’s native dialect is slightly different. Heck, I’m not sure if it would matter if she spoke in Portuguese-Piraha~ pidgin — if communication clarity was the problem the husband could simply translate.
    In fact, if the wife speaks in the most polite of manners though she speaks in a stigmatised dialect — there should be nothing to be ashamed of.
    JMW:
    “The “ain’t got no” school of speech is pretty repulsive. I knew that from a young age, growing up in the south, and avoided that particular construction.”
    “But to refuse to buckle in all circumstances is bull-headed and impolite at best.”
    This reminds me exactly of how creole languages get stigmatised in postcolonial countries.
    I used to share such unfounded prescriptivist sentiments as a child, because I would be constantly scolded for inserting Singlish creole constructions in my speech.
    It’s a very pervasive habit you know. The only reason I can control it now is that I migrated to the US at the age of five, where then I started using that variant of English they call American English. Out there, somewhere, wives are being admonished by RP-speaking business husbands for using that vulgar American intervocalic alveolar flap.
    Let me tell you that dialectical variants acquired early in childhood are *extremely* difficult to change, and every attempt preventing yourself from using such a variant takes great pain and conscious effort. Maybe you’ve brainwashed yourself to do this (I admit I took the “easy way” out by immersing myself in American elementary school.)
    Furthermore, I am not sure if such constructions should be avoided, and conscious attempts to suppress particular constructions often do not turn out well. Take for example when the “Speak Good English Movement” (i.e. “Speaking Singlish is Improper Movement”) visited one of the primary schools and a schoolboy was quoted in the Singapore press. “Before they came I used to speak incorrectly and say ‘lah’ all the time.” [lah is one of those Singlish discourse particles, appended to the end of statements to express a mood] “Now I know not to say ‘lah’ and say [some extremely pretentious acrolectic standard replacement].”
    The wife is not trying to be bull-headed and impolite on purpose. If you have struggled with dialectical constructions in childhood, you yourself should know this.

  44. Haha, My Fair Lady — Berger’s comment wasn’t there when I was writing my comment.
    To a concerned parent above:
    “This involves correcting her speech so that she uses …. and a recognizable grammar and pronunciation. However, she’s ten and this is a parent’s job.”
    I don’t get this. Unless the child has received damage to Broca’s area, how exactly does a child not know the grammar of her native language? Native speakers always know what is grammatical in their native language, though they may be victim to occasional slip-ups, as well as vulgar prescriptivist propaganda that unjustly makes native speakers lack confidence in their knowledge of grammar. (Vulgar prescriptivism in this case being opposed to informed prescriptivism.)

  45. Right on all counts, jrs, and thanks for your eloquent comments!

  46. It’s interesting that, in my experience, if the wife spoke “broken” English, because her native tongue was not English and she has not acquired “perfect” English, it would have been acceptable to the husband in his business circles. I’ve seen this many times.
    It seems to me that it’s a question of accent/grammer horses for courses. I know a distinguished former US network TV correspondent who would have go nowhere had she not lost her heavy Southern speech, and in the UK, a man whose business career was definitel impeded by his wife’s speech patterns.
    I suggest the heart of this discussion is the difference between the real world, and what many people (in this case anti-prescriptivists) would like it to be !

  47. michael farris says:

    Again, I can’t find anything that unambiguously indicates he’s bothered by accent or dialect.
    My reading remains that he’s bothered by but her inability/refusal to use an appropriately formal register when called upon.
    No matter what her dialect or accent is, it should be perfectly possible to use a socially appropriate register.

  48. Arfur "50 øre" Crown says:

    Paul said: the heart of this discussion is the difference between the real world, and what many people (in this case anti-prescriptivists) would like it to be !
    This guy has nothing to do with the real world, Paul. He’s “in business as a corporate executive”.

  49. “My reading remains that he’s bothered by but her inability/refusal to use an appropriately formal register when called upon.
    No matter what her dialect or accent is, it should be perfectly possible to use a socially appropriate register.”
    AFAIK, “ain’t got” is a dialectical construction.
    Now perhaps you’re referring to the basilectal-acrolectal spectrum, in which case (as many people who have experiences being immersed in a dialectical variant in their youth know) many times it’s difficult attempting to speak ‘acrolect’.

  50. michael farris says:

    “AFAIK, “ain’t got” is a dialectical construction.”
    I thought “ain’t got” is more or less universal in distribution, at least I can’t think of an accent or region in the US (or other anglophone country?) that wouldn’t allow it.

  51. Arfur "50 øre" Crown says:

    Michael Farris: can’t think of an accent or region in the US (or other anglophone country?) that wouldn’t allow it.
    Yes, but some would ‘allow’ it more than others, is John’s point. You know Nina Simone’s 60’s hit Ain’t got no…I got life? That wouldn’t work as “I don’t have..”, now would it.

  52. michael farris says:

    No, anymore than “Flo, she doesn’t know” would work on the Supremes song ‘Back in my arms again’.
    On the other hand, “aint’ got no” is not part of the formal register of any kind of English.

  53. Arfur "50 øre" Crown says:

    Or “I can’t get any satisfaction”. Does blues count as a dialect?

  54. Arfur "50 øre" Crown says:

    “You’re nothing but a hound-dog”. “I’m not too proud to beg”.

  55. michael farris says:

    Well blues is associated US southern black dialect (or dialects) just as country is associated with US white rural (mostly southern) dialects, so it’s natural that lyrics have lots of features that belong to the everyday versions of said dialects (as opposed to their more formal variants.)

  56. Arfur "50 øre" Crown says:

    “There isn’t any sunshine when she’s gone”. “There is no mountain high enough”. Sorry, had to get those off my chest.

  57. marie-lucie says:

    I find it interesting to listen to interviews with “country” style singers who speak quite standard English but switch to country style pronunciation when called upon to sing one of their songs.

  58. Tuckers says:

    I find this rather amasing. A bunch of Americans banging on about the English language, social grace and good manners. The very same people who saw up their food, transfer it on a fork to their pitching hand in order to throw it down their gobs. The same folk who think a noun is underprivilaged if it is not mangled into a verb and dragged out at sporting functions. Who think an ‘ess’ is less attractive than a ‘zed’, which they insist on calling a ‘zee’, for no apparent reason. Who have attempted genocide on the poor ‘u’. That twice elected a President whose acquaintance with the language appears at best to be accidental. They medal in the destruction of grammar and then wonder if it effects the way others see them. I wouldn’t mind betting that the wife is easier on the ear than the self proclamed word smith and that we should not waste more labor on his socializing abilities. He’s a plonker!

  59. adrienne says:

    As the child of a construction worker and a debutante, and as a woman who regularly (even tonight!) hosts dinner parties for my husband’s clients and colleagues, I feel singularly qualified to respond to this.
    My father never even attemped to regulate his “ain’t got no’s” around the home, even though my mother regularly (and lovingly) reminded us not to repeat his phrasing. In public he was the very model of a Southern gentleman, and he worked hard to modify his speech at social gatherings, so as not to “create a ruckus with your grandma”, as he told me. Thus, I grew up understanding that while Grandma’s ideas about public appearance were often silly, it’s even sillier to argue about them, because she’s *not* the only one who feels that way. Society requires a lot of silly things from us, like underwear, whitening trays and practical knowledge about the presidential candidates’ daily routines. Deal with it.
    As for WORDSMITH’s wife, and in response to the commenters who stated he should have known who she was prior to marriage, I must retort that they were equally responsible for pre-marital due diligence. Regarding the statement that he should quit his job because family should come first, I think that both partners should work together to ensure the success of a family’s means of support, so if he needs her to brush up on her hostessing skills, she should do so.
    Or, my short answer: he may be elitist, along with the rest of the business world and educated society, but her refusal to even TRY to learn indicates more than that she’s uneducated – she’s deliberately ignorant, and that’s unforgivable.

  60. Don, t worry that she doesn’t has a good verbal skills, you are lucky that you got a wonderful wife who loves you. Nobody has everything. Love her for who she is and stop worrying about how others perceive her.

  61. David Marjanović says:

    What I don’t get about this… why isn’t this a diglossia situation? I have a switch, and as long as I keep it pressed, I sound like a TV newscaster — even though grammar, phonology, phonetics, and vocabulary differ quite a bit between my dialect and (even Austrian) Standard German. I suppose there’s more diversity within Standard American English and, in most of the country, so little difference between that and the local dialect that people aren’t as aware of the difference… can that be?

  62. jamessal says:

    Thus, I grew up understanding that while Grandma’s ideas about public appearance were often silly, it’s even sillier to argue about them, because she’s *not* the only one who feels that way.
    This really doesn’t follow.
    Society requires a lot of silly things from us, like underwear, whitening trays and practical knowledge about the presidential candidates’ daily routines.
    Strange examples. Not exactly germane.
    What I don’t get about this… why isn’t this a diglossia situation?
    I’m not sure it’s reasonable to assume everyone has a second tongue at their disposal. You’re obviously smart and educated; the woman might not be (or at least might not have much of a capacity for language). Mr. Good English married her, however, so it’s a little late to start complaining. As Abby points out, it’s shallow to worry about how others perceive your loved ones.

  63. unrelatedwaffle says:

    What a shame that from a community of supposed linguophiles no one has mentioned the ever-present fact that there is no such thing as a “correct” grammar, just the personal preferences of a series of loopy, male, obsessive-compulsive eccentrics that found their way to the printing press. If you ever read a history of the fight for “proper” grammar, you will realize that the goal is as difficult to grasp as beads of running water.

  64. waffle: We pretty much take that for granted around here.

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