Weekly Roundup: Always With The Cunning Linguists Edition

Venerable readers of this blog will recall that I received three “B” grades as an undergrad. One of them came from John Romano, because I was hospitalized for a week and thus missed enough of his class to receive an automatic penalty, though I’d never gotten a “B” on any assignment. I respected his choice, because he operated from unyielding precision in his teaching and evaluation. The second came from John Parks, and it stemmed from a disagreement over Mary Gordon’s bigoted trash novel Men And Angels. I did not feel the book was worthy of assignment nor of discussion in our class and I said so. Dr. Parks decided to engage me on this topic in front of twenty fellow undergrads; the consensus at the time among the students was that I had won the argument in scorched-earth fashion, but Parks had the final word when the grades were handed out. To this day, I remember him as an example of how not to teach at the college level; he was a soft and weak rhetorician who relied on the authority of his position, an easily provoked midwit perfectly suited for nothing better than the pallid bovine regurgitation of better writers’ work, a disjointed thinker who started blinking back the precursors of naked tears when I, a nineteen-year-old boy in a threadbare “Rockville BMX!” T-shirt, raised my voice at him.

Which leaves a third “B”, which wasn’t really a “B” because I saw the light during my third week of class and took advantage of a university rule which let me take a certain number of courses on a pass/fail basis. This, too, came from an in-class disagreement I had with the professor — but unlike the work of Mary Gordon, which has never appealed to any sort of reader other than the feebly subliterate, the substance of our squabbling remains intellectually relevant to the present moment.

Over the past few years The Atlantic has become little more than a series of Magic-8-Balls in which various combinations of the words “Trump” and “racist” have been assembled to great horking choruses of approval from the Park Slope crowd. You can what you like about the forty-fifth President, but one thing he has managed to flawlessly accomplish has been to show just how shallow the rivers of American intellectualism run nowadays. Confronted with the mere existence of a real-estate-developer-and-reality-TV-show-turned-politican, the vast majority of our great public minds and institutions have resorted to an insane and feverish bleating of pornographic obscenities. The self-appointed greatest minds of the country, defeated en masse by a fellow who likes gold-plated bathroom fixtures. Trump turned over the rock of our respect for universities and senior press (think the New York Review Of Books) and showed us the filthy beetles scuttling away from unexpected sunlight. He confirmed what many of us long believed: namely, that the Ivy League and the public-opinion-making institutions had rotted from within perhaps thirty or forty years ago as they replaced their original charter of knowledge-seeking with a feckless, inbred currying of credentialist claptrap in which the joy of learning has been replaced by a conformity of unquestioned belief.

Yet their triumph is not complete, because they have merely erected an unsteady new cathedral on the centuries-deep bedrock of Western thought and philosophy. The sniveling victim-porn of Matty Yglesias and Jake Tapper may seem all-powerful now, but they could be swept away by even the most ephemeral of enlightenments, the same way that the best-selling novelists of the pre-Victorian era mostly exist today as caustic asides in the diaries of Boswell, Pepys, and others. There’s a movement of young men afoot — the so-called “Clean Living Kings” who reject Pornhub and YA fiction in favor of Stoic philosophy. It’s a movement accidentally predicted by Tom Wolfe’s A Man In Full. These young fellows can taste the empty calories of modern society, and they are digging for vegetables in the cellars of antiquity.

This won’t do. In order to make the progressive revolution permanent, we have to ensure that young men (and women, of course) are unable to read the great books of the past. Previous dictatorships of the proletariat did this by burning the books, but doing so only burnishes the attraction of the ones that escape the fire. Far better to leave the books in play but simply to ensure that they are inscrutable. Orwell showed how this would be done: through Newspeak.

The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought — that is, a thought diverging from the principles of Ingsoc — should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meanings and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods. This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and by stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meanings whatever. To give a single example. The word free still existed in Newspeak, but it could only be used in such statements as ‘This dog is free from lice’ or ‘This field is free from weeds’. It could not be used in its old sense of ‘politically free’ or ‘intellectually free’ since political and intellectual freedom no longer existed even as concepts, and were therefore of necessity nameless. Quite apart from the suppression of definitely heretical words, reduction of vocabulary was regarded as an end in itself, and no word that could be dispensed with was allowed to survive. Newspeak was designed not to extend but to diminish the range of thought, and this purpose was indirectly assisted by cutting the choice of words down to a minimum.

Emphasis mine. And this, dear reader, is how I got into a scrap with my Linguistics teacher in 1990. He was a Chinese expat with such a thick accent that you could often look around the lecture hall and read incomprehension in half or more of the faces, this being more strongly distributed in higher and more distant rows of seating. I don’t remember what set it off, but somehow he and I started arguing about what he called “Black English”, pronounced Brack Engrish. He claimed that Black English was as complete a language as standard English. I stood up and stated that

a) “Black English” was probably a bad term for it, insofar as it was cultural/regional and not genetic; and
b) any dialect which reduces the number of available words is a subset of English and therefore inferior, because it cannot convey the same range of meaning without resorting to external techniques like tone of voice, physical motions, and extreme notions of context.

I don’t know what plans he’d originally had for that class, but the last forty or minutes of it turned into the two of us (at one point, literally) yelling at each other. No surrender was possible, because he was the professor and I was convinced then, as now, of the righteousness of my position. Eventually we realized that our time was up and that the classroom was empty. “Crass over,” he snapped. I walked out, got on my show-chromed Carlo-Lucia-era Boss Pro XL BMX bike, and rode directly over to the registrar, where I changed my registration to pass/fail, a decision which was validated by the consistent “B+” applied to every paper I wrote afterwards.

At the time, this felt like a genuine betrayal. I’d taken linguistics because I wanted to better understand the complexities of the English language, not because I wanted to be lectured on the interchangeability of dialect by someone who had access to a mountain of evidence proving otherwise. Eventually, I came to realize that modern academia is largely deconstructive; in other words, it’s a bunch of people who have used a rope to climb a wall and proceeded to pull said rope up behind them while simultaneously lecturing the people left behind on the meaninglessness of ropes. The highest and most pleasurable calling of the university professor now is to denigrate all the learning he has spent a life accumulating. This allows him to enjoy supremacy on several levels; he achieves the apex of his profession, enjoys the freedom to criticize his predecessors with impunity, then ensures that his successors will be ill-equipped to criticize him. This arrogant “apres moi, le deluge” mindset is absolutely omnipresent now in the liberal arts; it also goes a long way to explain all the changes made in the admission policies to most institutions over the past few decades.

No surprise, then, that an appropriately credentialed linguist is the author of “Embracing your inner child is comforting and fun—and just might revitalize the English language.” Were you aware that it required revitalization?

A generation understandably spooked by “adulting” may well embrace the linguistic comfort food of childlike language… Does the new trend of kidspeak represent a dumbing-down of the English language—and of American society as a whole? Just the opposite: With the rise of kidspeak, we are actually witnessing English’s enrichment.Kidspeak extends our word stock in exactly the same way that Old Norse, French, and Latin once did. On the internet, for example, kidspeak refers to a “smol kitty” and a “smol baby,” but not a “smol mailbox” or “smol Blu-ray player.” Smol, then, is not merely a way of spelling small, but a more specific term referring to diminutive cuteness… English today is arguably more fertile than it’s been since Shakespeare’s time, and those itchy about the novelty of kidspeak might consider that not so long ago pedants were insisting the proper person should say “bal-coh-nee” for balcony, stamp out “nonwords” such as standpoint, and use obnoxious to mean “ripe for injury.” Their arguments failed miserably when presented to everyday speakers, who tend to have good intuition about how language should work.

This is precisely the sort of idiocy which should be addressed with extreme intolerance. “Everyday speakers” — what a moronic phrase! Didn’t Samuel Johnson speak to peeople every day? — “tend to have good intuition about how language should work.” I think the author is trying to imply that language is refined for efficiency in “everyday” situations, but he doesn’t quite have the sentence-assembling ability to put that across without ambiguity. Let’s say that’s his point. “Everyday speakers”, given the chance, will boil language down to its bare bones then use context, voice, and gestures to fill in the rest. They’ll do the same to art, music, and everything else. If you want a vision of the everyday-speaker future, Winston, imagine a street in downtown Detroit or New Orleans or Selangor, forever: Language becomes patois, art becomes graffiti, music becomes someone drumming on a five-gallon bucket.

This sort of idiocy would be toxic if McWhorter actually believed it, but he doesn’t. Compare the aw-shucks tone of his Atlantic article with the summary from one of his (rare) scholastic publications:

It has become widely accepted that English has undergone no interruption in transmission, its paucity of inflection treated as a random loss paralleled in Scandinavian. This paper argues that English has in fact lost more of the Proto-Germanic inheritance than any other Germanic language including Afrikaans. These losses extend far beyond inflection: where other Germanic languages overtly mark a given feature, in a great weight of cases English leaves the distinction to context.

Ooh! “Paucity of inflection”! McWhorter’s approach to language is ivory-tower consistent: shades of meaning for me, but not for thee, you everyday speaker, you. He’ll retain his fancy English as he pleases, but you should go ahead and start babytalking about “smol puppers” and similar stupidity. A generation of this, and we will all become babbling idiots, communicating approximately in pidgin. We will have achieved Newspeak, only it will be full of “doggos” and “puppers”.

Won’t this make it impossible for young people to learn the lessons of the past? Well, yes — but that’s kind of the point. And to satisfy the curiosity of the rare few who can look away from YouTube long enough to express the mildest curiosity regarding the open grave of Western culture, McWhorter suggests that we “translate” Shakespeare into Modern English. What a horrifying thought. Not to worry, I’m giving it a shot below:

HAMLET:Shit, bro, idk if I even wanna be here. u wan 2 scrap or peace out? But wat if I ‘an hero’ and then have bad dreams when I’m dead and shit? It’s mostly these motherfuckers bein’ bitches about peelin’ they own caps and shit. Yeah ima ride for mine.

Naturally, this is all being done in the holy name of Diversity And Inclusion but consider, if you will, the following:

This battle with Mr. Covey was the turning point in my career as a slave. It rekindled the few expiring embers of freedom, and revived within me a sense of my own manhood. It recalled the departed self-confidence, and inspired me again with a determination to be free. The gratification afforded by the triumph was a full compensation for whatever else might follow, even death itself. He only can understand the deep satisfaction which I experienced, who has himself repelled by force the bloody arm of slavery. I felt as I never felt before. It was a glorious resurrection, from the ‘tomb of slavery, to the heaven of freedom. My long-crushed spirit rose, cowardice departed, bold defiance took its place; and I now resolved that, however long I might remain a slave in form, the day had passed forever when I could be a slave in fact.

The beauty of proper English is that it can be mastered by anyone with the will and capacity to do so. It does not discriminate. It is a tool available to all who might wield it in confidence. Frederick Douglass was one such man. He used the discipline of language to effect major change — in his life, in the life of others. In a Newspeak world, he could never have persuaded as he did, could never have accomplished what he did. In this way, the leveling of English won’t serve to erase oppression or discrimination: it will serve to make it permanent. We will have two official languages: English for the people who make the rules, and Newspeak for those who must follow them. The speakers of the latter will live in the eternal sunshine of a spotless present, never troubled by Shakespeare or Douglass in “the original”, never given the chance to express or consume a contrary opinion. O brave new world, that has such people in it!

* * *

For Hagerty, I wrote about an effort to find a Corvette for a dying man and forbidden fruit at the local automotive grocery.

40 Replies to “Weekly Roundup: Always With The Cunning Linguists Edition”

  1. AvatarJDW

    1. I did not expect to encounter any references to Wolfe’s A Man in Full today; I read it for the third time earlier this year. The degree of accuracy and nuance in the author’s depiction of Atlanta – and Buckhead in particular – leads the reader to believe, almost implicitly, obviously, that the author is an Atlanta native. Of course, Wolfe hailed from Richmond, Virginia and studied at a certain distinguished liberal arts school named for two important generals before earning his PhD at Yale.

    2. On the distribution of seating in the linguistics class:

    The first thing you learn in summer school is “not everyone can sit in the back row”

    Reply
  2. Avatarsightline

    I’m just going to leave this here.

    ‘The proles are not human beings,’ he said carelessly. ‘By 2050–earlier,
    probably–all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron–they’ll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually changed into something contradictory of what they used to be.’

    Reply
  3. Avatar-Nate

    If this article is a veiled message about ebonics then I heartily agree .

    It’s a patois that pretty much guarantees failure for those who embrace it .

    I enjoyed the Skyline/Prado article, some times people just want what’s different .

    One of my late GearHead friends loved Toyota Carinas and found a remarkably clean one in Colorado, shipped it here and custom built an 1800C.C.engine for it that used all factory Toyota parts .

    Kudos to the old man who was able to fulfill his dreams .

    -Nate

    Reply
    • Avatarpsmith

      “It’s a patois that pretty much guarantees failure for those who embrace it .”

      But is a necessary though not sufficient condition for success within the subculture, which is why people continue to embrace it, see Levitt on “black names.”

      Pivoting to the article as a whole, I don’t know, I think “hur hur pidgin sounds silly” is a fairly midwit-tier argument by itself. On the other hand, an education system that actually enabled meritocratic social mobility would have to teach a standardized elite dialect. Compare the famous David Foster Wallace essay on AAVE which I can’t find right now.

      Reply
      • Avatar-Nate

        I dunno about that .

        I actually live in the Ghetto where I have to deal up close and personal with the dolts who insist on speaking ebonics daily .

        You might be surprised to discover they are the ones shooting up the ‘hood, dealing dope, stealing cars and the rest of the trash .

        Most of my neighbors are normal folks who just want to work and get ahead in life .

        Guess which group waved at me to – day as I rode past on my old Motocycle? .

        -Nate

        Reply
      • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

        “I don’t know, I think “hur hur pidgin sounds silly” is a fairly midwit-tier argument by itself.”

        Where’s that argument being made?

        “an education system that actually enabled meritocratic social mobility would have to teach a standardized elite dialect.”

        The phrase for which you’re searching here is, I think, “Received Pronunciation”, as taught in the UK. Most American boarding schools were also known for drilling a sort of dialect into their students as well; the kids would come home sounding like the richest among them.

        Reply
        • Avatarsnorlax

          > “Most American boarding schools were also known for drilling a sort of dialect into their students as well; the kids would come home sounding like the richest among them.”

          The “Transatlantic Accent,” A.K.A. that oddly stilted way of speaking they had in old movies and advertisements.

          Reply
        • Avatarpsmith

          “Where’s that argument being made? ”
          That’s about what I took from the “let’s translate Shakespeare” passage.

          “Received Pronunciation”
          Right. My point, such as it is, is that the beauty of “proper English” (which I construe as “elite dialect”) is not “that it can be mastered by anyone with the will and capacity to do so”. Tautology aside, so can AAVE or Pidgin or Esperanto, and Esperanto at least is arguably easier. The reason to teach proper English (and not AAVE or baby talk or Esperanto) is that proper English by definition is the language of the English-speaking elite, and if we want our elite to consist of the most able from all walks of life we had better make sure that they’re not excluding themselves by speaking AAVE when they could otherwise have succeeded. But that’s not to say that proper English is somehow intrinsically better than AAVE.

          By analogy, driving on the right isn’t intrinsically better than driving on the left. But if you want to equip someone to travel in a country where everyone drives on the right, you teach them to drive on the right. Inb4 this thread turns into an argument about whether driving on the right is intrinsically better.

          Note, too, that “proper English” isn’t necessarily the same thing as RP. In fact, today in America, it’s definitely not the same thing.

          Reply
  4. AvatarJohn C.

    I would cut a little slack to McWhorter. He is just trying to tell his almost entirely white audience that his people aren’t as backwards as you might think. A man should be able to stand up for his people.

    I was touched by the story of the man getting his C8, it was great for Hagerty, GM, the dealer and the transport company to help out.

    I too loved “A Man in Full”. I too was in Atlanta in University late 80s-early 90s and the picture Wolfe drew was spot on. I think a decline had set in when he did Miami in “Back to Blood” where he was great in describing billionaires but less so on Miami itself.

    Reply
    • Avatarsnorlax

      > “I too was in Atlanta in University late 80s-early 90s”

      So you obtained the inside scoop on the interior thought processes of Chevy Vega buyers which caused them to hallucinate their cars were unreliable while you were in utero? Precocious!

      Reply
      • AvatarJohn C.

        As an American I can understand what the designers were trying to give their fellow younger Americans. What you are trying to give and why to the Asian man when you put your hand on his lap baffles me. Enjoy your trip to Canton.

        Reply
    • Avatar-Nate

      Tom ;

      I think you’re on to something and hope you will speak out against the dissolution of the English language .

      I do daily and endlessly as was done to me when I was young, sometimes I feel very alone .

      -Nate

      Reply
    • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

      Don’t get me started on adults using the words “poop” and “poo”. I’d rather have my eight year old grandson say shit, though in reality he says defecate and feces. He is, after all, my grandson.

      Reply
    • Avatars

      I came simply to post that I want to “punch a baby” every time I see the word “smol” in writing. (Dane Cook reference on the punch)

      Reply
  5. AvatarBeccaria

    The reality is that most academics aren’t radicals in any meaningful sense of that term. Radicals by definition question and attack existing power structures, critique the ideological mainstream, and offer alternative visions of society and policy. Most academics don’t do anything like that. The vast majority are very average middle-class people who tend to be more socially liberal than the median. That’s about the extent of their ideological commitments. The further up the pyramid of academic eliteness that you ascend, the harder it is to find someone that questions the basic way American society functions. For every Matt Karp or Corey Robin that gets through, there are a thousand others who are perfectly happy to spend their lives not rocking the boat. And that’s absolutely by design. The modern university has one basic educational function, which is to take high school students and turn them into model corporate employees. For all the criticism about cost and time investment and credentialism, universities are actually pretty good at this! They are great at taking people from many different types of backgrounds and getting them invested in ideas like meritocracy, hierarchy, and technocracy. It’s why the relationship between corporate America and the modern university has arguably never been tighter than it is now. Monopolistic tech companies and megabanks don’t want iconoclasts. They want competent managers who are inculcated to believe in the system. If you want to fix what ails academia, attack the monopolies and the corporate sellouts and demand that they stop treating higher ed like a pipeline into middle management.

    Reply
      • AvatarCJinSD

        Thirty years ago, it was a given that psychology majors were fruitlessly hoping to heal themselves. They were the least stable of all. Now there are more of them.

        Reply
      • Avatarstingray65

        Business degrees are up, but social justice crap has completely taken over HR related faculty and courses, which is how you get Google firing engineer James Damore for daring to suggest there might be some differences between male and female interests and abilities. Guess which business sub-discipline is dominated by female faculty and students? Answer: HR. In fact, the huge growth in “useless” degrees and accompanying college loan debt problem is almost entirely driven by the rise in female enrollment and diversity efforts to increase the number of female and non-Asian faculty of color. Meanwhile, many of the useful fields where people actually learn useful skills and can gain profitable employment such as science, math, engineering and finance are increasingly populated by foreigners, which makes the diversity and inclusion administrators very happy.

        Reply
  6. AvatarWill

    Figured I’d chip in here being a college student. I don’t necessarily completely agree with everything written here, and I think there are still a lot of well-intentioned, impactful university professors out there. But do I see the substance in some of the broader points made here. I certainly would appreciate more diversity of thought, and particularly more well-informed conservative voices, in academia, especially having just taken world civilizations with a self-proclaimed conservative history professor. I also do see how some colleges and universities can be seen as more focused on self-importance than on actually working to make the world a better place, but as I said, I don’t think that necessarily describes EVERY college or university. Appreciate the article overall. Definitely broadens my perspective in a way I appreciate

    Reply
    • Avatarstingray65

      Your conservative history professor is part of a dying breed – something on the order of 95% of history professors are Leftists, while 30 years ago 25 to 35% were on the Right side. There remain some pockets of sanity on campuses today, usually in the physical sciences, engineering, and business schools (except HR), but the social sciences and humanities are basically lost causes, because the 5 to 15% of faculty who lean conservative don’t dare express conservative viewpoints on campus or even off campus for fear of being protested or fired by the diversity and inclusion brigades – ironic isn’t it? I am very happy to see in your comment, however, that you are seeking a broader perspective – its just too bad the most universities are no longer supplying it.

      Reply
    • AvatarDaniel J

      Most midsized to smaller southern Universities are still pretty conservative, even in the Liberal Arts departments. In some ways they have to be for parents to send them to school. I’m pushing 20 years removed from a small southern University, but I do know a few people who’ve graduated recently and they’ve suggested that the Liberal Arts at the school are slowly turning more progressive. I’m not surprised.

      Reply
        • Avatarstingray65

          A bit over the top for great comic effect, but the sad fact is when that movie was made in 1986 there were a fair number of conservative history professors, although more of them were WWII or Korean war vets than Vietnam vets, which meant most were retired by the mid-90s and replaced by flower child draft dodging Lefties still in place today.

          Reply
  7. Avatarstingray65

    Jack – great articles on the Corvette buyer in a hurry and Prado pronounced as Lexus. I wish every “global warming” nut in America who wants to ban or tax the heck out of gasoline and SUVs would be forced to live in just about any other country on earth and earn the local salary equivalent and pay local prices for transportation and fuel. Not only are after tax salaries much higher in the US than just about anywhere, but the cost of almost all consumer goods is much cheaper than any developed country. I’m sure they would enjoy saving the world buying a Prius or Tesla that costs 20 to 50% more than in the US, and fuel it with gasoline or electricity that is 50 to 300% more expensive, on a salary that is 20 to 50% lower.

    Reply
  8. AvatarJoe

    There seem to be some serious students here with catholic tastes. As an intellectual enterprise that might pay real dollars you could take a studious look at losthorizons.com. It tells you both the truth about federal taxation as well as independent sources for you edification. The IRS will not whisk you away to a black site just for learning. The author does go off the rails about other concepts but this he has correctly uncovered.

    Reply
  9. AvatarTexn

    Good article on the Prado…the 2 door intrigues me. I do like the capability of our GX460, and it’s even awesome pulling a trailer between TX and ID. I’d rather have the Toyota badges because I’m not a very pretentious person.

    I’m curious what you/your friend think of the GS350. In a couple years, I’ll hand down my Accord to the kids. I was thinking another Accord but always admired the GS.

    Reply
    • AvatarDan S

      The GS is a hidden gem in the midsize luxury segment, shame they’re cancelling it. I’d tell you to get one while you still can, but I’m hoping the residuals stay fairly low.

      Reply
      • AvatarTexn

        I’ll probably buy a few years old, like I did with the GX. It’s an older architecture, but I’m okay with that. I want something that has a nice open greenhouse, smooth ride for long trips, and decent handling for the mountain highways. Except for road noise, the Accord has been pretty good. I guess my standards are low.

        Reply
  10. AvatarTony LaHood

    Karma will reward those who made Larry’s big dream come true. And Larry, if you’re reading this, f*ck cancer. Get out there and enjoy that C8!

    Reply
  11. AvatarRyan C

    This is the tetchiest of questions, But what led you to describe a Tacoma-area home as “a hundred miles from the Pacific Coast”?

    Tacoma is a coastal city. That coast is Puget Sound, but it’s salt water, tidal, and unless there’s a Seattle Geographical idiom I’m unfamiliar with, very much part of the Pacific Ocean.

    Yes, the Olympic Peninsula is still west of the city, And it’s big, but I never thought it loomed in the minds of Washingtonians as something That cut them off from the Pacific, any more than San Francisco cuts Oakland off from the Pacific.

    Sweet story though.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      It came from my conversations with Larry, a lifelong resident who thinks of the Pacific Coast as being something separate from the Sound, that’s all.

      Reply
      • AvatarRyan C

        Huh. Live and learn. I’m going to poll my Seattle buddies about this now, because now I’m obsessed with this semantic trivia.

        Reply
  12. Pingback: The Allusions Continue – Musings from Brian J. Noggle

  13. AvatarMike

    We try to read a range of literature to our kids (both of whom are in the low single digit age range). One story we bought on recommendation was “Last Stop on Market Street”. The main characters in the story are an elderly black woman and her (presumably) grandson. The dialogue of the former at least approximates proper English, but that of the grandson is almost unreadable. The story and moral of the book is good, though, so I’ve taken to “modifying” the text somewhat on the fly as I read to correct the boy’s ghetto-speak. I figure once the kids are old enough to read it themselves I’ll explain to them the concept of slang and let them make their own choice.

    (Interestingly, the book’s author appears to be Caucasian…do with that what you will)

    Meanwhile, at Jack’s recommendation I picked up a 1960’s era set of Collier’s Junior Classics, which we’re blowing through.

    Reply

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