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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars using the diversity of language as a communicative tool ., 2 Dec. 2001
This review is from: Bad Language (Penguin language & linguistics) (Paperback)
'Bad Language' is a title of potentially ironic intention for a work that ultimately sets out to dismiss the idea that bad language as such, actually exists. Instead Andersson and Trudgill herald the notion that as long as communication prevails then language has served its purpose. These 'liberal' authors emphasise the prescriptive, descriptive divide from the outset, suggesting that prescriptive language inherently lacks any sense of reality as regards the way in which language is actually spoken today. The point of view being, that descriptive language makes for more natural and free flowing communication, therefore enhancing rather than downgrading the language in question.
'Bad Language' aims to challenge any preconceived ideas regarding the language of others, arguing that it is the content of what we say that is of importance, rather than the way in which we express our ideas. It is perhaps important to note that English language is not a fixed, concrete entity and therefore talk of its preservation is somewhat irrelevant, for change is innate in language itself. We only need to look at the progression from Chaucerian Middle English to the language of today to appreciate this fact. Furthermore, change does not necessarily mean decline, but can often denote vibrancy and diversity in language. The work suggests that Slang words, fillers and even swearing amongst other varieties of informal speech, are an integral part of spoken language, indicating equality between speakers, affirming friendships and often adding a comical aspect to speech.
The authors make it clear that 'Bad language' is frequently a matter of opinion or attitude, as opposed to fact. After all, there have been many instances where informal words or phrases have made their way into so-called 'standard' varieties of language. Furthermore, if many people begin to use language that is deemed to be 'bad' or 'ungrammatical' are the users then incorrect or, is language itself simply failing to keep up with change? Andersson and Trudgill go beyond this, arguing that in creating this idea of 'good' or 'bad' language we are making social judgements on those whose language differs form our own, therefore evoking feelings of superiority. Such attitudes are to be avoided, for this is equated with racial prejudice...
Finally, aspects such as dialect, accent, style and register are investigated, leading to the idea that perhaps a phrase should be put into true context before judgement is passed. Things that may be deemed as 'Bad' in one area of the country may be perfectly acceptable in the speaker's hometown and so allowances must be made. It could be argued that it is 'appropriateness' rather than intrinsic ideas of right and wrong that matter as far as language is concerned. Language should not follow strict pattern or trend as this in itself prevents character expression, for it is thought that our language reveals many things about us including age, gender, social class or status, as well as much about character and personal belief.
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