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Episode 172 — Grammar


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#1 July Diaz

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 11:24 PM

Today Andrew Ti & Marissa A. Ross discuss the idea of grammar possibly being racist. Keep leaving us messages by calling (323) 389-RACE.

#2 strit johnson

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 04:08 AM

INTERESTING

#3 Joshie

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 06:01 AM

No grammar isn't racist, what a ridiculous question. The same underlying rules of grammar apply to all human language regardless. Even Southern English/Black English Vernacular/whatever ethnolect you wanna put here. You can boil it all down to charts and relations if you want, using the exact same rules and standards, i.e.,

Posted Image

The use of the word "grammar" on this episode was inconsistent/incoherent. Given that there's barely enough of a grasp of sociology to actually address the racism bits, maybe stay away from linguistics in the future? Read Noam Chomsky, Steven Pinker, et al. there are no "different grammars" to enforce against one another, they are all one: http://en.wikipedia....iversal_grammar

#4 Cracktivity

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 12:06 PM

I think Andrew Ti did a poor job of explaining himself here, or was trying to say something kind of beside the point. The caller was possibly (she also didn't explain herself at all) talking about the fact that if someone came into her class and wrote an essay in the same vernacular that is (maybe) spoken in the community in which she teaches, she would probably have to grade that student down for "poor grammar" even if the grammar in the essay conformed exactly to that vernacular. Ti could have talked about that rather than the correct spelling of 'your' or 'you're' ad whether people on the internet should make fun of each other for typos.

#5 Shariq Torres

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 06:18 PM

View PostJoshie, on 13 June 2013 - 06:01 AM, said:

No grammar isn't racist, what a ridiculous question. The same underlying rules of grammar apply to all human language regardless. Even Southern English/Black English Vernacular/whatever ethnolect you wanna put here. You can boil it all down to charts and relations if you want, using the exact same rules and standards, i.e.,

Posted Image

The use of the word "grammar" on this episode was inconsistent/incoherent. Given that there's barely enough of a grasp of sociology to actually address the racism bits, maybe stay away from linguistics in the future? Read Noam Chomsky, Steven Pinker, et al. there are no "different grammars" to enforce against one another, they are all one: http://en.wikipedia....iversal_grammar



Pedantic score keeping aside, I think he was very clear in what he meant by "grammar". He meant that using the way someone expresses themselves is not a reason to shut down arguments against people or disregard the sometimes very true things that they are saying. It means not privileging one grammar over the other (in your chart does "SE" stand for Standard English? Why is that the "standard," if all grammars are one?), because in a society, how you speak is going to give clues as to where you are from, what class you were born in, and in this country, what race you are. The group that does not have much power in society always has the way they talk be branded as incorrect, wrong, nasty, vulgar, aggressive, and any other adjectives deemed appropriate.

Its just another way power expresses itself and leaves the groups out of power at a disadvantage because nothing they say will ever be "correct." In the late 80s and early 90s, RnB and hip-hop groups were creatively spelling their stage name and group names. White folks were aghast and poked fun at them because, hell, didn't they know that you spell "gravediggers" with an "s" and not a "z"? Compare that with the creative spellings of lolspeak and how differently that was embraced by the mainstream or even called out for what it was -- not a knock against the intelligence of the people using it -- but a fun, quirky way of talking on the internet.

#6 Joshie

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 06:52 PM

View PostShariq Torres, on 13 June 2013 - 06:18 PM, said:

the way someone expresses themselves is not a reason to shut down arguments against people or disregard the sometimes very true things that they are saying.

Quote

Compare that with the creative spellings of lolspeak and how differently that was embraced by the mainstream or even called out for what it was -- not a knock against the intelligence of the people using it -- but a fun, quirky way of talking on the internet.


lol you mean like the time I said "pwned" and you told me to go back to playing videogames? because obv. using an gamer lolspeak term meant the true thing i was saying didn't matter and i was a basement dwelling neckbeard who didn't know shit about the real world? http://forum.earwolf...dpost__p__53965

As usual, Shariq = biggest hypocrite on the forums, doesn't actually mean what he posts because he'll turn around in a second to act different if he can score internet points in an argument

*drops mic, walks off stage to crowd cheering*

#7 mall

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 09:12 PM

i think grammar is very racist

#8 Shariq Torres

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 04:31 AM

View PostJoshie, on 13 June 2013 - 06:52 PM, said:


lol you mean like the time I said "pwned" and you told me to go back to playing videogames? because obv. using an gamer lolspeak term meant the true thing i was saying didn't matter and i was a basement dwelling neckbeard who didn't know shit about the real world? http://forum.earwolf...dpost__p__53965

As usual, Shariq = biggest hypocrite on the forums, doesn't actually mean what he posts because he'll turn around in a second to act different if he can score internet points in an argument

*drops mic, walks off stage to crowd cheering*



I hope they read that whole thread. I hope they read when I say that black people don't have the same level of representation that you counter that (oh, excuse me, "pwn me") by bringing up two examples of non-white senators (one dead and one retired). When another user calls you out on that, that's when I tell you go back to playing video games (you see how language gives clues to who are? I didn't say go back to crocheting) because you don't even know what you're talking about. Then you come back with, I believe, two non-white, current sitting senators and say that your point still stands. What was that point? At first the point seemed to be that non-white racial representation is at parity with whites because at some point during the 200+ year history of the Senate, there had been non-white senators. Or was it that because there were more non-white senators than I had originally thought (I think I said there was one, and I was wrong, there are 4 or 5) that the issue of racial parity needed to be dropped? It was an avalanche of stupid. 95 to 5 isn't equal in any sense.

Its like you want to be pedantic, just for the sake of it. People could clearly understand what I was saying (because another use r basically agrees with me, if not my way of expressing it) and people could clearly understand what Andrew was saying in this episode. Is it because you want to show off how smart you are? Fine, Joshie, you are the SMARTEST MAN IN THE UNIVERSE.

Let me repeat again: JOSHIE, YOU ARE THE SMARTEST MAN IN THE UNIVERSE!!!!


Are you happy now? Are you satisfied? So, now we can drop this nitpicking bullshit you like to do and actually discuss the topic at hand? If you want to drop in these little nuggets of wisdom you can still do that, but if they are not going to add anything to the day's topic, I would regulate them to interesting side notes. That's great that you know about the universal grammar theory! But we are talking about certain grammars being privileged over others. That is the topic.

#9 imhatch

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 05:05 AM

View PostJoshie, on 13 June 2013 - 06:52 PM, said:

*drops mic, walks off stage to crowd cheering*

ha ha between this and liking your own post this is def the most masturbatory post ive seen in a looooong time and i post at nothingbutmasturbatoryposts dot com

#10 imhatch

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 05:06 AM

*accidentally swallows mic, stumbles down a set of infinitely falling stairs until relativistic effects take over*

#11 Hyde Parker

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 04:51 PM

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That's great that you know about the universal grammar theory! But we are talking about certain grammars being privileged over others. That is the topic.


It's probably pretty difficult to have a broad discussion of class and ethnic signifiers in language when you as the host of a call-in podcast can't be bothered to spend a few hours reading Language Log.

It makes about as much sense to write an English composition essay in Black Vernacular English as it does to write one in Chinese (or Cockney rhyming slang). The point there isn't argument or self-expression but familiarity with professional orthographic norms. Mastery of professional norms means more social mobility and greater understanding of what one communicates to a reader when one inevitably deviates from those norms in non-academic writing.

Formal grammar probably doesn't clear the disparate impact bar of Racist Evil but if it shouldn't be taught then neither should anything else that not everyone is inherently good at.

#12 Hyde Parker

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 05:31 PM

I should add that pretty much everybody in the United States not raised in feral poverty can approximate Standard American English as it's spoken on television with little error. The trouble with standard written grammar is that the best way to learn it is by reading, and nobody reads, and if you're not reading you're not writing, so schools (and colleges) are filled with kids who have tremendous difficulty expressing even the simplest things in writing, let alone forming complex arguments while navigating a labyrinthine system of rules they have no experience with outside of a classroom.

#13 Shariq Torres

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Posted 17 June 2013 - 05:24 AM

A couple of points, Hyde:

Your scale of what is to be included as Racist Evil is very lopsided. So far, Black Student Unions that use the Papyrus font are very high and the only point on the scale.

No one has to be read departmental blogs at the University of Pennslyvania to know that society judges certain speaking patterns as being ignorant, dumb, uncultured, etc. You can see that with your eyes. Anyway, it would not have made a difference to you either way, because like I said before, your Racist Evil scale is skewed toward BSU that print flyers with the Papyrus font.

People don't speak grammatically correct on television. Writers want to go for this thing called verisimilitude, so they try to approximate how real people talk. The way real people talk breaks a lot of "rules" of language -- dropped consonant or vowel sounds, using words that aren't a part of English, like "ain't," combining words that are separate into one -- "whatya," split infinitives, and all sorts of crazy shit. Now what people CAN approximate, even sometimes mockingly, is the midwestern accent that is used for announcements and the news.

Andrew said that if you are in school and you are trying to learn this skill, then you should abide by the rules that are set forth in the skill. The problem, in his mind and mine, is when you privilege that way of speaking over another and use that as an excuse to shut down conversations about topics you don't want to talk about, like racism. There is nothing inherently professional about one way of speaking or inherently dumb about another way of speaking. Those are adjectives that are given to those ways of speaking, those grammars, by people with an agenda to promote one group over another. Hell, you liked Joshie's post about the Universal Grammar. If its all just one grammar and one is looked down upon and the other isn't, there is something more going on than just a lame excuse that "one is more professional."