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The Power of Babel: and Why We Can't Fight it in Our Own Language

Room 363 Student Center
Speaker(s) / Presenter(s):
John McWhorter

Abstract: "Linguists have been teaching the general public for several decades now that traditional conceptions of "bad" versus "good" grammar are not based on scientific argumentation, but certain fashions laid down by assorted thinkers mostly in the eighteenth century. However, the public remains convinced that most speakers of English go about speaking it "wrong." In this talk, I try to present the linguist's perspective in a new way, showing that while all people must learn standard grammar for public purposes, nonstandard grammar is distinct, but not logically mistaken."

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