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- viii, 294 p. : ill., map ; 24 cm.
- In The Word on the Street, John McWhorter reveals our American English in all its variety, beauty, and expressiveness. Debunking the myth of a "pure" standard English, he considers the speech patterns and accents of many regions and ethnic groups in the U.S. and demonstrates how language evolves. He takes up the tricky question of gender-neutral pronouns. He dares to ask, "Should we translate Shakespeare?" Focusing on whether how our children speak determines how they learn, he presents the controversial Ebonics debate in light of his research on dialects and creoles.Includes bibliographical references (p. 273-281) and index.Pt. 1. Language: A Living Organism. 1. The Heart of the Matter: Lava Lamps and Language. 2. Natural Seasonings: The Linguistic Melting Pot -- Pt. 2. Three Faces of Modern English through a New Lens. 3. Leave Your Language Alone: The "Speech Error" Hoax. 4. In Centenary Honor of Mark H. Liddell: The Shakespearean Tragedy. 5. Missing the Nose on Our Face: Pronouns and the Feminist Revolution -- Pt. 3. Black English Is, Black English Ain't. 6. Black English: Is You Is or Is You Ain't a Language? 7. An African Language in North Philadelphia?: Black English and the Mother Continent. 8. Dialect in the Headlines: Black English in the Classroom? -- Afterword: As We Travel On.The Word on the Street frees us to truly speak our minds. It is John McWhorter's answer to William Safire, transformed here into everybody's Aunt Lucy, who insists on correcting our grammar and making us feel slightly embarrassed about our everyday use of the language. ("To whom," she will insist, and "don't split your infinitives!") He reminds us that we'd better accept the fact that language is always changing - not only slang, but sound, syntax, and words' meanings - and get on with the business of communicating effectively with one another.