Posts Tagged ‘dialect’

Horizontal divider

Warning: Your Usage May Vary

posted: 3.20.09 by Traci Gardner

Garment Warning TagWhen I read the tag attached to a new flannel shirt, I thought about student texts that needed a similar tag. It would read something like this:

A note about this text
The differences in spelling or word choice, the appearance of unusual sentence structure or grammatical constructions are all part of the natural beauty of language. These linguistic characteristics are an important part of the style and enhance the beauty of this text. These VARIATIONS are not considered defective.

In a world that expects standardization, it’s hard to explain that language has few absolutes. Most writing teachers know that language use comes with color, shading, and finish that to a purist seem like errors.

The regional, cultural, and social variations we read in student texts, like the “fabric slubs and gentle wrinkles” of my new shirt, are all “part of the natural beauty” of the final products that we see.

The challenge in the classroom is helping students identify the times when the variations don’t fit the overall fabric of the text. We accept a few wrinkles in a journal entry or email message, but we generally expect the formal essays students turn in to be more polished. Here’s one way to show them:

[read more]

Comments Off on Warning: Your Usage May Vary
Categories: Assignment Idea, Grammar & Style
Read All Traci Gardner