The presence of dialects within each language has allowed conflicts between cultures and peoples to arise. This has been especially prevalent within education and writing presence in a classroom.
Although the issue of restriction of one’s dialect has been prevalent for several years, there hasn’t been much attempt to solve it.
Vershawn Ashanti Young does an excellent job of explaining this in his piece “Nah, We Straight: An Argument Against Code.”
Although all three of the sections written in Young’s 1974 resolution “Student’s Rights to Their Own Language” are of equal importance, the “Understanding Language Varieties” portion in particular stood out to me.
Our chosen paths in the writing profession require a certain level of awareness regarding topics such as this–every writer must not only be an effective communicator, but also well read and aware of cultural trends, tones, and linguistics.
This is particularly important when it comes to what we read and its role in places like education.
I would argue that a portion of a role is dedicated to educating others on the key points and correctness of writing on both a general and specific level. When the topic of dialects arises, I think particularly of how this affects the writers we edit for.
Becoming more aware and getting to know your writers on a more personal level is a key aspect of editing their writing optimally.
I also found the depth in which these dialects affect language to be fascinating, considering its effect on both history and the way that intertwines with how each person uses language a little differently.
This is why the standard we see in the classroom today can be tricky–should all students have to follow the same set of rules? And if so, does this unfairly restrict a writer’s voice and right to their own culture in the way in which they not only write, but communicate in the classroom?
I also thought it was interesting that not only culture influences one’s dialect; this can be influenced by factors such as environment, community, people, and regions.
Social and political atmosphere also has an impact on the way one communicates, which can create habitual ways of speaking and writing. In that fashion, speaking and writing have come to a similar destination when it comes to the umbrella of standard English.
This is not necessarily an objective truth-writing and speaking are very different, and rightfully so. They each have different influences and purposes, and the attitude of each varies depending on the context of certain sociological climates as well.
With all of that said, comprehension is not based on whether an objective standard is upheld when it comes to English. Dialects should not be restricted as it can become a form of cultural repression or restriction of individual voice within writing.
It is not a matter of students simply switching their language, but rather “whether they can step over the hazily defined boundaries that separate dialects. Dialect switching is complicated by many factors, not the least of which is the individual’s own cultural heritage.
Since dialect is not separate from culture, but an intrinsic part of it, accepting a new dialect means accepting a new culture; rejecting one’s native dialect is to some extent a rejection of one’s culture.”
This is furthered by this quote from Young: “Therefore, the question of whether or not students will change their dialect involves their acceptance of a new – and possibly strange or hostile – set of cultural values.”
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