ENGL 110-64

Spring 2022 / College of Charleston

What is Standard English, Anyways?

April 11, 2022 by · No Comments · Rhetorical Choice (Project 3)

by Janae Katz

What is standard English, and how should it be taught, if it should be taught at all? Many folks have been debating this question for a while now, and for good reason. The inevitable truth about America’s society is that it is full of subtle prejudices and filled with premade boxes for people to go in. We start off life with elementary school or daycare, where we are told to be ourselves, be creative, and we learn our basic skills. Then we continue to late elementary school and middle school, where the boxes start to form, and everything gets stricter. Finally, in highschool, you’re expected to have “realistic life goals,” which is really code for “that’ll never work,” and we are taught strict rules and formulas to follow.

Specifically, though, one thing that becomes almost formulaic and loses most of its creative potential is writing. Creative writing is taught less and less, and even creative written forms such as poetry quickly phase out in highschool and a little in middle school as well. In fact, one specific memory of mine is from eighth grade in middle school, where we had a bookmark that had an exact formula of how to write paragraphs for our papers, so all of the papers would be virtually identical. This leads me into my interpretation of standard English, what it really means or stands for, and the implications of it.

I define standard English as what many call “proper” English, or speaking the “correct” way, but the problem with this comes with the fact that this caters to the white, and usually affluent as well, people. So when we press children to only conduct themselves in a certain way and limit how they can, or “should,” speak in a professional setting, such as school, we sort of continue to push prejudice in the long run and really suppress creativity in the process of it. At the end of the day, teachers are doing what they can and what they are told to do, however this doesn’t have to be the end of the story. In an article by Stanley Fish, he writes about how he believes colleges should teach more about writing rather than focusing so heavily on reading. Afterall, reading American Literature won’t make you good at writing by default. To that, I agree. Schools focus, at least in English class, too much on reading rather than writing. If their goal is to teach students sentence structures and the rules on how to use words efficiently within papers, then they’re going to have to take down the reading bit.

It is ironic that these English classes focus so heavily on literature and reading, yet expect students to partake in the use of “proper/ standard English” within their papers. This sort of teaching tactic makes the writing all formulaic and non original. It sucks the creativity out of the students. While on the topic of irony, it is an interesting fact about these courses that they introduce creative writings, or writings that aren’t necessarily written how the students are expected to write, such as George Orwell’s Animal Farm or Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. I feel as though these courses read more and more, and write less and less over the years, and it is having the adverse effect that they wish to have. I never thought I would complain about this, but there has even been less class time devoted to poems, as in how to write them, the different kinds, and all of the creativity it unlocks. Looking back on my schooling experience, I didn’t really like the poem unit, but it did get us thinking as a class, way more efficiently than novels do, might I add, and I just think that novels and things are great, just not great enough to take up the entire English curriculum. This formulaic way of writing, enforcing all of these strict grammar rules, and making students read so much in so little time, drains the students. In an article featured in The Atlantic, an author named Andrew Simmons discusses how poetry has become more of an afterthought than something to be studied, how sometimes in a classroom environment things need to be sacrificed to fit within the school year, and poetry is usually the first to go; he also talks about how creative expression is often deemphasized in the favor of expository writing. I think it goes without saying, but I totally agree with him, creativity is being thrown out of the academic window, and pushes students into this box that they’re told their whole life that they’re supposed to go into. This leads me to my next point: is standard English upholding existing prejudices in professional settings?

I strongly believe that standard English, how it is taught to us, is code word for “proper” English. So, what is proper English? Proper English is how white people have traditionally spoken, at its core. I can’t even count the amount of times that I’ve heard someone say slang, speak in a particular tone, or use AAVE, African American Vernacular English, and then been told to “speak properly.” It’s already no secret that there is prejudice in the workforce against black people and many other people of color, but it is especially hard for POC in higher paying professional settings, because, and I may be reaching here, but the very language is built against them. I understand perhaps wanting papers to be written in a particular format, however, this leaks into our day to day language and vocabulary within certain settings, and I argue that it is a bit damaging to society as a whole. Because you only hear people in a certain societal class or high paying job environment speak a certain way, when you hear people outside of those environments speaking in a more relaxed manner and using slang or AAVE, the automatic assumption for most is dimness. We hear certain dialects and assume stupidity, when in reality people just don’t want to walk around speaking as if they’ve just jumped out of a 1990s 600 page novel on the phylogenetic tree for arachnids. This is where we learn to code-switch. Code switching is when you switch how you speak depending on your environment and the folks you are around. For example, some kids may speak a certain way when it is just themselves and their peers and friends, and then when they come home they speak all “proper English” and sound like a completely different person. This also comes back to school and how we were taught.

We are taught to speak a certain way and to fit into these premade boxes while at school, and then we are free to act and speak differently when at home. This is when code-switching begins in people’s lives, and if your parents do not like the way you speak when you’re around your friends, but school usually gets to us first. While code switching may not be a big deal for white children, it is especially hard for black kids and other kids who are people of color. Don’t just take it from me, here’s an excerpt from an article from An Injustice by a woman named Allison Gaines,

“Black children know that they must assimilate, but they must do so because their culture is considered inferior. Like a chameleon, Black people change their behavior as a form of self-defense. It is through demonstrating proficient use of American Standard English that Black people feel welcome in white spaces. It is their way of letting white people know that they understand American Standard English, attempting to counter stereotypes that Black people are intellectually inferior.”

All in all, code switching is harmful and is definitely a burden that no one should have to carry. To this problem, Vershawn Ashanti Young poses a possible solution.

Vershawn Ashanti Young has an article in the Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies titled Should Writers Use They Own English? where he poses the idea of code meshing as an alternative to code switching. This article was also a direct response to Stanley Fish’s What Should Colleges Teach?, where Fish said this,

“And if students infected with the facile egalitarianism of soft multiculturalism declare, “I have a right to my own language,” reply, “Yes you do, and I am not here to take that language from you; I’m here to teach you another one.” (Who could object to learning a second language?) And then get on with it.”

And then Young responded in his own article with this,

“If he meant everybody should be thrilled to learn another dialect, then wouldnt everybody be learnin everybody’s dialect? Wouldnt we all become multidialectal and pluralingual? And that’s my exact argument, that we all should know everybody’s dialect, at least as many as we can, and be open to the mix of them in oral and written communication.”

And to that, I agree. Considering the fact that we have been forcing black people and other people of color to assimilate to standard/ proper English for their whole lives, how is it okay to then exclude their dialect from all things professional and intellectual? I would understand if some things need to be written in a type of way for a large audience to be able to understand or comprehend, however, I do not think all of English as a subject should be taught in this suffocating manner. Code meshing is introduced as a common ground solution in Young’s article, and is defined as so, “Code meshing blend dialects, international languages, local idioms, chat-room lingo, and the rhetorical styles of various ethnic and cultural groups in both formal and informal speech acts.” Code meshing allows breathing room for people to be individuals, and allows everyone to slowly break out of their premade boxes that we talked about earlier. I’m not sure why, but I feel as though the way we are taught currently really just wants everyone to be the same, instead of having creative people, who are independent and sure of themselves. Code meshing will not only allow people to communicate their ideas clearer, it will also create much needed room for individualism. Plus, if some writings, such as scientific research papers and other things of that nature were written in a more code meshing manner instead of full blown standard English, they would be more user friendly, and more of the public would be educated on the facts of things. All in all, code meshing could be the key to this society’s enlightenment and make everything very user friendly, as it should be, because why are we making everything so complicated?

Now, that’s all great, but how exactly do we do this? I think this should start where it all started. In those elementary school and middle school’s classrooms. I propose that we spend less time reading huge, pointless (most of the time) novels, and learn more about different cultures, especially those within our society. I think we need to spend less time cramming everyone into their nice, neat little boxes and more time letting our differences shine through, and giving everyone more room to be heard and to be creative. As for standard English as we know it, I don’t think it should take up a whole class. I think traditional English classes should focus more on creative stories, how to make basic sentences and how to build them up uniquely, and allow the students to write freely with far less grammar rules than we have now. And then if we must have some lingering form of “standard English,” then I propose that it be in its own class as a “special topics” course, and not take up our whole schooling careers, and please, please, please, we need to lower the amount of novels we read- they are doing nothing, I promise. We shouldn’t just stop reading books, but we should also put focus on the other forms of English out there, especially the creative forms.

In conclusion, I think code meshing is the way to go, and code switching needs to go out of the window right along with our ideas of “proper”/ standard English. English classes need to be heavily reformed if we want to stop the future generations from all being the same person, because I believe that if we taught in a more creative and culture based way, more people would feel hopeful for the future and put more effort into themselves, rather than just settle for random jobs that they don’t want to do because they felt like they weren’t enough because of school.

Works Cited

Fish, Stanley. “What Should Colleges Teach? Part 3.” New York Times, 7 Sept. 2009.

Gaines, Allison. “How Code-Switching Causes More Harm than Good.” Medium, An Injustice!, 29 Oct. 2020, https://aninjusticemag.com/how-code-switching-causes-more-harm-than-good-18ede1a57ba0.

Simmons, Andrew. “Why Teaching Poetry Is so Important.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 8 Apr. 2014, https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/04/why-teaching-poetry-is-so-important/360346/.

Young, Vershawn Ashanti. “Should Writers Use They Own English?” Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies, vol. 12, no. 1, 2010, pp. 110–118.

3 Ways to Speak English + Code-Switching/Meshing by Ashley Kidd

April 6, 2022 by · No Comments · Rhetorical Choice (Project 3)

Audience: The Class

The English language and the idea of Standard English is very complex and difficult to grasp consistently. The United States is considered a “Melting Pot” for being the home to so many different cultures, races, and religions. Because of this, there are so many variations and ways in which people choose to speak and communicate that do not all conform with the standard type of English. This is often seen as an issue by some people because they believe that the standard way to speak English is the true and only form of the language. This idea often leads many people who do not speak in standard English to code-switch and code-mesh in their day to day lives. Code-switching is “the practice of alternating between two or more languages or varieties of language in conversation”(Esen 2019). People often code-switch in situations where they feel as though speaking a different way will likely help them fit in or create a benefit for them. Based on the NPR article there are typically 5 reasons that someone would code-switch: accidental switching, wanting to fit in, wanting to get something, speaking in secret, and to properly convey and think. Similar to code-switching, code-meshing is the “combining of multiple dialects within any single context of communication, written, or oral”(UCWBLING 2019). While it is less popular, code-meshing still occurs in many situations. With the concept of standardization in writing and speaking being so hard to grasp since what is deemed standard is not what works for all people and is not what everyone typically understands. This is where the idea of code-meshing becomes more prevalent since it is the idea of mixing multiple variations of language and considering them all equal as opposed to one “standard”. Being able to learn to write and speak in multiple variations would help diversify the English language as well as create many opportunities for all people despite how they speak.

Jamila Lyiscott touched on the idea of various forms of English and communication in her TED Talk “3 Ways to Speak English”. She starts off the TED Talk talking about how she was told she is “articulate” by a random woman. Being articulate in simple terms means being able to speak well and be understood easily. She then goes on to talk about how she is articulate in various situations. With her professor she is articulate in discussing work, while she is also articulate in talking with her father and friends. However in each of these scenarios she talks to each person or group of people in a variation of the English language. With her professor she speaks standard English that is taught in schools, with her father she speaks in a relaxed native language, and with her friends she speaks in slang. In this idea she is implying that code-switching is a major part of her daily life. She must code-switch in each situation in order to be viewed as “articulate” and easy to understand in each context. If she didn’t code switch then there may be confusion from the various parties because of the different types of English. In these situations the idea of code-switching is often used more than code-meshing because it is hard to mesh languages that other people do not understand. For example, if her professor does not understand her slang that she speaks with her friends it would be hard for her to mesh the two variations of language in a way that he would also understand. She discusses how even different variations of English have their own forms of rules and “laws” that must be followed and understood. Another way to understand this concept is seen in the article What Should Colleges Teach by Stanley Fish. At one point in the article Fish talks about how you can’t just dive into a language without previous knowledge. He uses the example of teaching someone about independent clauses in a standard English class. If you simply told someone with no previous English experience the grammar rules about commas within an independent clause, they wouldn’t be able to understand at all. However if you take the time to explain what an independent clause is as well as a comma and its use, then it would be easier for them to apply what they have learned. This idea also applies within language as Lyiscott was implying. We have to be open to learning and teaching each other the various “laws and rules” or else there will not be a mutual understanding thus leading to more code-switching.

Lyiscott then goes on to talk about the history of the country and peoples mindset has had an impact on the idea of what type of English is spoken. She states in class she has stopped “the flow of an intellectual conversation” to ask the question “why these books neva be about my people”. This brings up the idea that code-switching and speaking formal English is based on the history of our people and conforming to a new society. She then goes on to talk about how language variations and ways to speak were taken away from people not native to the English language like many other rights were taken. Lyiscott believes that code-switching is so big in fitting in groups because standard English is what is taught is proper based on the type of people the country was built off of. The prejudice from previous generations has still affected us in a way to see when it is fit to talk in a certain way. This concept and idea is why code-switching is so widespread and common. This idea also relates back to Young’s article Should Writers Use They Own English. In his article, Young states that people often don’t get jobs or can lose them solely because they don’t talk or write in the “status quo” which happens to be standard English. He says this is because of people’s attitudes towards language. He states, “it be the way folks with some power perceive other people’s language”(Young 110). In this Young is saying that the way we speak English is often influenced by people who are deemed important which treks all the way back down history. This is also seen in Sound Effects: Challenging Language Predjuice in the Classroom article by Walt Wolfram in the section titled the Seeds of Language Predjuice. In this article, Wolfram basically talks about how growing up the idea of right and wrong within language is instilled in us by adults. As soon as we begin learning to speak we are taught standard English and the ways of the dialect within our region. This often leads to people later and life being taken back by others’ range of speech. The biggest difference between Young’s argument and Lyiscott’s Ted Talk is their approach on the topic. Lyiscott took an approach that could be seen as less aggressive than Young’s. Young also talks about standard language ideology. Which is “is the belief that there is one set of dominant language rules that stem from a single dominant discourse (like standard English) that all writers and speakers of English must conform to in order to communicate effectively”(Young 111). This belief plays into Lyiscotts ideas of rules within languages that we must follow in order to be properly understood as we communicate with each other. 

In her talk, Jamila Lyiscott implies many messages to writing teachers. Going back to her comments about the history of language. When Lyiscott brings up books never including people like her she is implying that teachers should widen the horizon of books they teach on. In many curriculum programs around the country, we are all taught the same stories about the same types of people and not shown anything else. We are not taught about other types of people, cultures, or languages. This also has an impact on a student’s ability to be able to later speak to others. If we are always taught one way of writing and speaking then we will never be able to fully understand and adapt to other types of language. She also goes into the idea of people assuming that someone who does not speak in standard English is simply ignorant. Lyiscott wants to encourage people to not judge others by their choice of language. All languages are different and should be seen as equals. This applies to writing teachers because we are often taught that one form of language is better than another. This way of teaching leads to people as though they have to code-switch in order to be properly heard, understood, and respected in many academic and social settings. Jamila Lyiscott also talks about how knowing how to speak multiple variations of English is beneficial and brings diversity to jobs and other settings. She calls herself trilingual because she is able to adapt and communicate with so many people in various settings. This would be beneficial for teachers to teach students so that we can slowly diversify workplaces and professional environments to fit more people. 

Works Cited


C, Isabel. “Creating Conversation: Code Meshing as a Rhetorical Choice.” UCWbLing, 18 June 2020, …….http://ucwbling.chicagolandwritingcenters.org/creating-conversation-code-meshing-as-a-rh…….etorical-choice/#:~:text=Code%20meshing%20is%20the%20combining%20of%20multiple…….%20dialects,higher%20education%20and%20our%20work%20as%20peer%20tutors.?mscl…….kid=b63e1311b53d11ecb687ff1dc010f155.

Esen, Seckin. “Code Switching: Definition, Types, and Examples.” Owlcation, Owlcation, 13 …….Apr. 2014, https://owlcation.com/humanities/Code-Switching-Definition-Types-and- …….Examples-of-Code-Switching.

Fish, Stanley. “What Should Colleges Teach? Part 3.” New York Times, 7 Sept. 2009, …….https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/07/what-should-colleges-teach-part-3/. 

Performance by Jamila Lyiscott, 3 Ways to Speak English, Feb. 2014, https://www.ted.com/talks/ …….jamila_lyiscott_3_ways_to_speak_english?msclkid=4c3bfe82b51311ec9164505102c048fe. …….Accessed Mar. 2022.

Thompson, Matt. “Five Reasons Why People Code-Switch.” NPR, NPR, 13 Apr. 2013, …….https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2013/04/13/177126294/five-reasons-why-people-.………code-switch.

Wolfram, Walt. Sound Effects-Challenging Language Prejudice in the Classroom, 2013. 

Young, Vershawn Ashanti. “Should Writers Speak They Own English?” Iowa Journal or Cultural …….Studies, vol. 12, no. 1, 2010, pp. 109-118, https://lms.cofc.edu/d2l/le/content/268138/view …….Content/3465819/View. Accessed 27 October 2021

Should Writing be Standardized?- Taylor Williamson

April 6, 2022 by · No Comments · Rhetorical Choice (Project 3)


In today’s modern world the language that people are using when they are speaking is quickly evolving and some people might argue that as speech is evolving so should the way we write. However, there are some people who believe that even though the way we speak is evolving we should still continue to have a set of rules that determine how we write academic and professional papers and other forms of writing. For years growing up and going to school students are taught to have proper grammar and punctuation when writing things like a paper or a formal email, but like most things in today’s world the idea of having to follow these rules is being challenged by the younger and upcoming generations.   By incorporating this new style of writing, teachers are now faced with the challenge of deciding how they are going to grade each paper equally when not everyone is following the same criteria. Sometimes it is important to have a set of rules that students should follow even if it is more lenient; that way everyone’s writing is at least in the same ballpark for grading. Having a set of rules can also allow for more people to understand what they are reading. If each person is writing based on the way they talk, it could become difficult for others who do not speak the same way to understand.

         In the essay “What should colleges teach” the author Stanley Fish states that students should not be expected to follow the rule of not combining independent clauses with a comma if they have no idea what a comma is. He says, “It would be like being given a definition of a drop kick in the absence of any understanding of the game in which it could be deployed” (Fish 3). This is an excellent example of how sometimes proper grammar can do more harm than good. However, even though this is a true point, I agree that the way we write academic writing should be modernized to some extent. It is still important to have a good set of rules in place because if each person was able to write the way they wanted some people could take that to the extreme and writing could become difficult to understand to anyone reading the essay, except the person who wrote it.

         While things like including commas in between independent clauses might not be a rule that is completely necessary, Fish also includes in his article that it is important to have some sort of rubric that teaches students the ways that they should write and the things they should avoid. He also states that it is important for schools to teach these rules from a young age so they are like second nature to students as they get older. In his article he writes that “high schools and middle schools are not teaching writing skills in an effective way, if they are teaching them at all. The exception seems to be Catholic schools”(Fish 1). From my own experience I have found this to be true. I grew up going to a non catholic school and have noticed that as I have gotten older I have struggled to understand some of the basic grammar and punctuation rules. Leading to me having to figure them out on my own while I am writing. However my mom teaches 7th grade at a catholic school and from seeing what she is teaching the students they are learning these rules from a younger age, meaning that they will have a better understanding of these rules then I do. Even though the way we write may be evolving it is still important for students to be taught how to write according to the proper grammar rules from a young age because if more and more schools move away from that then when it comes time for those students to move into higher level education and the professional world.

         In Vershawn Young’s article critiquing Fish’s article he states “Lord, lord, lord! Where do I begin, cuz this man sho tryin to take the nation back to a time when we were less tolerant of linguistic and racial differences. Yeah, I said racial difference” (young 2). In this quote Young is trying to make a point that people should be able to write in a way that is native to them based on their racial backgrounds and while I believe that people should be able to demonstrate their backgrounds in their writing, I think sometimes this can be difficult for people who do not come from that same background to understand.[PS3]  Instead using rules that fit with one group of peoples background, the updated set of rules could take into account the way that people from different backgrounds write and formulate a set of rules based off of that.  This does not mean that all of the rules that make up what a formal paper should consist of should come from one background. Instead, this list of rules should be inclusive to different forms or writing but just making everything standardized.  When writing his article I do not believe that Fish had the intent of trying to exclude a racial group, what I think he was trying to do was saying that students should all be taught a certain set of rules on how to write no matter what the rules are.[PS4]  By saying this it seems like he just wants to create a way of writing that can allow for equal grading and for all children to be given the proper tools to be able to be successful when they reach a time in their lives where they will be graded on their ability to write academic papers.

In the article Contesting Standardized English the author  Missy Watson explains “All dialects are linguistically equal and capable of meeting communicative needs” (Watson). Which I believe to be correct and this is also the reason as to why the new set of rules that should be put into place should take into account the way that different backgrounds express themselves in writing.  This is something that is definitely doable because it will allow for people from all backgrounds to feel like their writing that they do for formal paper has at least some reflection of who they are as a person.   Another example of this would be in the article Code-Switching and Language Ideologies which is written by Michelle D. Devereaux and Rebecca Wheeler. In this article the authors explain how high school English teachers should be teaching students how to read and understand pieces of writing that use different dialects and what would be considered the standardized rules of writing. For this they made an example of Zora Neal Hurstens book Their eyes were watching God. Devereaux and Wheeler state, “Texts such as Their eyes were watching God challenges students to see (and read) the English language in new ways” (Devereaux and Wheeler 93). I actually read this book in my high school English class and from what I remember this book does a good job of incorporating language from different cultures but at the same time it still keeps certain grammar rules that help readers understand what the author is trying to get across. This book is a prime example of how writing can use language from different cultures but still take into consideration the standardized rules that are in place. 

         Overall, I think that while society needs to work on modernizing the rules that they set when it comes to academic writing, I think that it is still important to have those rules because without them then there could be unfair advantages or disadvantages when it comes to grading these pieces of writing. Also having a standardized way of writing can allow for all readers no matter the background to be able to clearly understand what the writer is trying to say.



Work Cited 


Fish , Stanley. What Should Colleges Teach? , New York Times , 2009. Accessed 28 Mar. 2022. 

Young , Vershwan. “Should Writers Use They Own English? .” Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies , 2010. Accessed 28 Mar. 2022. 

WATSON, MISSY. “Contesting Standardized English.” Academe, vol. 104, no. 3, 2018, pp. 37–40, https://www.jstor.org/stable/26528058. Accessed 5 Apr. 2022.

Devereaux, Michelle D., and Rebecca Wheeler. “Code-Switching and Language Ideologies: Exploring Identity, Power, and Society in Dialectically Diverse Literature.” The English Journal, vol. 102, no. 2, 2012, pp. 93–100, http://www.jstor.org/stable/23365404. Accessed 5 Apr. 2022.

How We Define English

April 6, 2022 by · No Comments · Rhetorical Choice (Project 3), Uncategorized

By: Edmund Campbell

English sucks. Or rather the way English is taught sucks. It is most often taught as a set of rigid rules, when in practice, English is an ever changing language. It is because of this, that one must rethink how English is understood. To begin to redefine what the English Language is, it might be best to look at where it has come from. The beginning of English is a group called the Anglo-Saxons. These people were some of the first to conquer Britain as it is known today (Rice.edu). Later they were conquered multiple times by the Romans, and eventually the French. During all this time the base of Norweagon and Germanic language stayed leading to the Pre-English period, around 400 CE (Rice.edu, Pre-English). This eventually led into Modern English, around the Elizabethan Era. And was widely standardized around this time as well. In contrast, Modern Mandarin was first conceived around the 3rd – 8th century BCE (EthnoMed, paragraph 6). From this it can be understood that English, as a language, is not only relatively young, but it is also still growing. This can lead to parts of the language changing rapidly, while other parts change much slower. A good example of this is how the English used in American Law has stayed relatively consistent since the founding of the country, whereas English used on the internet has not stopped changing. According to Yulia Petrova “There are several places where new memes emerge,” (Meme language, its impact on digital culture and collective thinking , p.3). So it might be best to leave the English language undefined. This not only provides it room to grow, but also provides a way for English, and its many versions, to coalesce into a more useful language.

    Part of the new definition must account for all the ways English has changed in context. Many words have been redefined and treated differently depending on who is speaking the word. One example of this is the word Chuffed, Pleased, delighted, or Annoyed, displeased (Collins Dictionary). Because it means two opposing things, how is one to use it without the context of emotion. This makes the word very difficult to use in the written English language, yet still a very well used word. According to Google Dictionary it has an upwards trend starting in the 1940s and peaking around 2019. This brings to light the case of American English. American English is a language that has never settled into one language. This has led to, what is popularly known as, vernacular. Vernacular is a version of a language that is spoken by a certain group of people. Examples of this include AAVE, or African American Vernacular English, and Queer Vernacular. The existence of these vernaculars poses a problem for a person wanting to reach, and express the same sentiment to a large audience. This is why, when one watches political debates the language seems to be so formal. The speakers are using what is referred to as Standard English. This name is misleading. Standard English is more accurately known as Base, or Basic, English. It is the most distilled version of American English, and is understood by those who speak any version of American English. This is also the English taught in most American schools. However, 2 students from Shipley Middle School expressed that they felt underprepared for High School English. 

    The above stated problems lead to a few automatic solutions. One, is to actively discourage the use of any English language other than Standard English. This leads to many of its own problems, not least of which is how to implement this. Another problem brought forth by this solution, is its exclusion of minority groups. It is possible to argue that this is the current solution the American Public School system is using. The second solution is to embrace the fact that each version of English exists, to celebrate the differences. This of course brings up problems as well. Chiefly among them is the problem of mass communication. As stated in the last paragraph, one solution that politicians use is a standardized version of English. This might in fact be the simplest solution to this problem. Create a way for people to express their own vernacular, while still teaching Standard English. While this is a lovely idea, in practice it is hard to stick with. This is because of one major flaw, English teachers cannot account for how each person writes. This is of course why this paper has been written. The question of ‘How can English Teachers account for, and support the use of, different vernaculars of American English?’ The simple answer is they cannot. It is also not okay to expect them to do so. Stanley Fish, an English professor, argues that it is because High School Teachers are expected to grade every student differently, that modern students are under prepared for using Academic English in their lives. He asks that “a narrowly focused writing course be required for everyone” (What should Colleges Teach, p.1). In response to an article written by Fish, Vershawn Ashanti Young argues that it is the education of individual style that makes a writer great. Young also argues that Fish is “tryin to take the nation back to a time when we were less tolerant of linguistic and racial differences.” (Should writers Use their Own English, p.2). 

    To continue on, it is prudent to return back to the original part of this paper, redefining English. What has been established is that English is a language of change, that there are many versions of the language, and that it might be impossible to account for every single version of this language. So why write this paper? Simple, it is often fun to try possible solutions. The fact of the matter is that if the new solution does not work, the old solution still exists, and can be returned to at any time. 

    It is because of these new facts that a better answer may be created. One Middle School student interviewed for this paper suggested the following. Have 9th grade English be solely focused on Academic English, hard grammar rules and well written paper. Then have 10th Grade English be about creative writing, and how English, especially vernacular, relates to that topic. This solution is an interesting take on the whole situation. One, it asserts that Academic English is very much necessary, an assertion that a professor at Villanova agrees with, but also creativity is required to be a well rounded individual. However, one could also argue that Academic English is the problem. Another suggestion, from a student at the College of Charleston, is to teach Conversational English, for which they had no definition. The one way they described the difference was that Academic English has one interpersonal tense, whereas Conversational English has multiple interpersonal tenses. Their argument was that this should be what is taught in schools.This could end up being just as restrictive as the current system of English Education. In contrast, the Middle School Student’s suggestion gives room for people to explore multiple outputs of English, just over an extended time frame.

    To round out this discussion it is important to suggest that you, the reader, can make change in regards to this issue. You could reach out to local officials and ask for their opinion on this. You could write into a local news station and ask them to do a piece on the issue. You could even start a petition. However, the most important thing is that this issue is being noticed and talked about. 



“Chuffed Definition and Meaning | Collins English Dictionary.” Collins Dictionaries, 4 Apr. 2022, www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/chuffed.


Egerod, Søren Christian. “Chinese Languages.” Encyclopedia Britannica, www.britannica.com/topic/Chinese-languages. Accessed 4 Apr. 2022

Published 1998, Updated 2006


EthnoMed. “Chinese Language.” EthnoMed, 30 Apr. 2020, ethnomed.org/resource/chinese-language.


“Google Books Ngram Viewer – Google Product.” Google, books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&corpus=26&smoothing=7&case_insensitive=on&content=chuffed&direct_url=t4%3B%2Cchuffed%3B%2Cc0%3B%2Cs0%3B%3Bchuffed%3B%2Cc0%3B%3BChuffed%3B%2Cc0#t4%3B%2Cchuffed%3B%2Cc0%3B%2Cs0%3B%3Bchuffed%3B%2Cc0%3B%3BChuffed%3B%2Cc0. Accessed 4 Apr. 2022.


Kemmer, Suzanne. “Chronology: History of English.” Chronology of Events in the History of English, Sept. 2019, www.ruf.rice.edu/%7Ekemmer/Words/chron.html.


Pakstisj. “Technology and Language Change: How Memes and Emojis Are The Language of The 21st Century and That’s OK.” PennWIC, 18 Oct. 2016, pennwic.wordpress.com/2016/10/19/technology-and-language-change-how-memes-and-emojis-are-the-language-of-the-21st-century-and-thats-ok.


Petrova, Yulia. “Meme Language, Its Impact on Digital Culture and Collective Thinking.” E3S Web of Conferences, edited by D. Rudoy et al., vol. 273, 2021, p. 11026. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.1051/e3sconf/202127311026.


Potter, Simeon. “English Language | Origin, History, Development, Characteristics, and Facts.” Encyclopedia Britannica, www.britannica.com/topic/English-language. Accessed 4 Apr. 2022

Published 1999, Updated 2020


translations.co.uk. “A History of Mandarin Chinese.” Translations.Co.Uk, 30 Mar. 2017, www.translations.co.uk/history-mandarin-chinese-language.


Kelly Welch, Personal Interview, Apr 3, 2022


Graham Welch, Personal interview, Apr 3, 2022


Parker Welch, Personal interview, Apr 3, 2022


I also used Fish and Young. 

Should Writers Use Their Own English

April 6, 2022 by · No Comments · Rhetorical Choice (Project 3)

By. Victoria Lewis


            For centuries, the methods of teaching general English have been highly criticized by scholars,writers, professors, etc. This being the reason why many tend to argue and criticize each other’s teaching methods and writing. A famous example of this would be Vershawn Ashanti Young’s famous article on, “Should Writers Use Their Own English?” Here she was critiquing Stanley Fish’s opinions on why standard English should be taught in different varieties of English. Instead she argues for the use of “code meshing” or “code switching”. These two articles have been highly valued and taught today in schools and are still highly argued about in today’s writing world.

Keeping the teaching of standard written English is the goal of many educational centers and has been prevalent for a while. Although, this comes with many difficulties and factors. One being the fact that every individual is taught English in an alternate way. Most people learn their first bit of English from their parents or guardians, and since we all come from different backgrounds this is a huge factor. When it comes to teaching standard English many teachers want to mold the students in a way that benefits them, but, however, comes with the possibility of degrading what their parents taught them. Depending on your culture and where you were raised, English was taught completely differently. When individuals are given the ability to learn English from professors or teachers, they should also be given the opportunity to express themselves through what they’ve learned. Teachers should teach their students to write in their own English, but allowing the opportunity to do so.

I read an article by Mark Blaauw-Hara labeled, “Why Our Students Need Instructions in Grammar, and How We Should Go About It”. In this article Blaauw-Hara speaks highly on the importance of sticking to the rules of standard written English and how to teach it. He states, “Our students need to be able to adhere to standard written English to succeed in their own classes and to get jobs at the end of their schooling, and it’s the responsibility of writing teachers to help them do so”(Blaauw-Hara, Mark). It is apparent that the intended audience of this article is towards English teachers. I thought this statement was interesting, because not only did he state that it is a teachers responsibility to teach grammar and proper English but he also mentioned that “students need to be able to adhere to standard written English”. By requiring students to follow certain rules when it comes to writing, it can lead many to dread the idea of writing. The power of rhetorical choice, and language, can greatly impact a writer and their work. When it comes to this issue, teachers should not only teach standardized writing and English but should also allow their students to express themselves through their writing. At the end of day it is the teachers responsibility to teach the content but students have to decide if they want to use what they learned. By this I mean, many do follow the standard rules of writing but also many write in their own English. An example of this would be the infamous Jane Austen, who was known for using double negatives in her own writing. . By giving the students the power of expression, you are giving them the power of individuality.

           Educators should be open-minded when it comes to teaching general English. Although Mark Blaauw-Hara would disagree with this, writing is unique because the author behind every writing is unique in their own way. When you limit what a writer can and cannot do, you are also limiting the amount of information they are intaking. By this I mean teaching them only standard English, limits their knowledge of other types of English. This is crucial especially in college, where many students are encountering completely different teaching methods from every professor they have. By incorporating different versions of English such as non-standard English, they are helping their students become more educated for the world. Many college students will enter a career where they encounter people from all different backgrounds, where they will need to be knowledgeable in different types of English, such as language. Many students are also coming from homes where English is not their first language, or spoken differently. This all should be taken into consideration.

Another part of this question to look at, is the fact that all culture is changing everyday and affects everything including teaching methods. Many teachers are incorporating different teaching methods especially when it comes to English. They should not only incorporate standard English but also what is considered socially acceptable. This becomes critical especially after college when many students enter professional careers that require a great amount of writing. Also, at the end of the day, many don’t follow the rules of standard English. Writers will write what they want and people will read what they want. Even if this includes breaking the rules. Writers should write in their own English because it opens a different perspective to readers and allows new information to be used. The example of Jane Austen was a good example of this. She broke the standard rule of English because she wanted to, not because she didn’t know better. When writers take a leap and break the rules this adds uniqueness to their writing and excitement.

              In conclusion, writers should use their own English when it comes to writing. Although, there have been many debates on what “standard English” is, and how it should be taught, this shouldn’t be biased and completely take over a classroom. I will end with a quote by Benjamin Franklin, “either write something worth reading or do something writing.”


Blaauw-Hara, Mark. “Why our Students Need Instruction in Grammar, and how we should Go about

it.” Teaching English in the Two Year College 34.2 (2006): 165-78. ProQuest. Web. 4 Apr. 2022.

Leibowitz, Glenn. “50 Inspiring Quotes about Writing from the World’s Greatest Authors.” Inc.com, Inc., 24 Aug. 2017, https://www.inc.com/glenn-leibowitz/50-quotes-from-famous-authors-that-will-inspire-yo.html.

Classmates: “Code Meshing”-The Key to Culture

April 6, 2022 by · No Comments · Uncategorized

by Kevin Haley

The way we string words together has a strong effect on people, especially if we say something in a way that has a brand new meaning to them. People enjoy finding new ways to talk because it adds variety to conversations, and more recently the idea of code meshing and code switching has become more relevant. We have been forced to code switch from a young age, as soon as we become students we start to learn a dialect of our language that is typically more formal than the language we use at home. For essays, homework, and tests students use their most formal dialect of English to get their points across. There are teachers who stress formality over content and there are teachers that do the opposite, and for a student this can be confusing. Other codes may feel more comfortable and easier to use, but they could offer confusion or discomfort for the audience so we instead soak the discomfort out of respect for the ones we are talking to. Most high school or college students realize something at some point which is that a lot of the academic writing we do really has only one member of its audience and that is the teacher. Students will spend time tailoring their essay to match the guidelines of one individual, when most of the time teachers ask you to write about a topic that pertains to multiple people. In a time where certain classical formalities are going extinct, it is safe to say students should have the ability to write what they want in whichever way gets their point across best.

        Schools teach their students formal writing throughout their lives as preparation for opportunities, jobs, and communication. It is important to know how to sell yourself and ideas, and formal school taught English is the best well respected way of doing so. However, the difference between formal and informal writing is the fabrication of ideas and words. Informal writing where we don’t have to code switch is pure and unique because we are saying the first things that come to our head without question of how to make it sound better or more formal. We are always changing the contents of our formal English language by adding new words or double meanings to words that eventually become formally accepted in schools and professional settings. One director of the Academic Student Services Writing Center, Neisha-Anne Green claims, “Standard academic English is fluid as hell. It’s always evolving…So how can you tell me there is no space in academia for all of my Englishes? Why should I always have to contort myself and fix myself to your definition of good writing?”(Dimond). This is a valid claim for code meshing because she points out how English is always evolving. Why can it not formally incorporate “less formal” codes? Code meshing offers a learning experience for everyone because people will get exposed to words, phrases, and expressions that they have never heard before and in return this allows an individual to express their ideas on a more diversified basis. 

        The main reason for code switching to formal academic writing is so that people can find a universal dialect or common ground that everyone can comprehend and communicate on. This makes it much easier for teachers to grade when they set universal guidelines for their students to follow. However, this affordance for teachers can come as a constraint for students when they are asked to express themselves in a certain way. Expressions should be natural and code meshing preserves the naturality of our expressions. Allowing to choose whichever vernacular you want while talking maximizes creativity and eliminates repetition. Learning how to say things a different way cancels out repetition in English and offers freedom. Oftentimes, high schoolers and college students find themselves tailoring their writing to better fit the teacher’s beliefs or practices which are directly or indirectly integrated into the guidelines. One article supports this claim by saying, “Classroom writing practices are further influenced by teachers’ beliefs and knowledge…They(teachers) are also more likely to apply specific writing practices they view as acceptable”(Graham). Each teacher has their own definition of formal writing, and in a way they are asking you to adapt to a certain code for the time limits of that class to receive a good grade. This places students out of their comfort zone to meet the requirements. If teachers allowed for students to mesh their codes instead of picking and sticking with one then students would be more comfortable when writing. 

        The issue of code meshing boils down to clarity, teachers want you to express yourself but in a way that they and the class can understand. To make code meshing more common in classrooms, professions, and situations it has to be more socially accepted, and for that to happen people must stop rejecting new or unknown lingo and instead ask what it means. This is similar to learning a foreighn language and that it interconnects cultures and ideas. We do this in English with our multiple uses of slang for different situations and settings. Allowing for these forms of slang to mesh interconnects culture and people, in return this makes us closer to each other while having a better understanding of one another. The effort for code meshing starts with you. One quote from an article posted by the Harvard Business Review exclaims, “By bringing more of yourself to the table, you may encourage others to do the same.”(HBR). If we make the stance to mesh our codes rather than switch them, academic writing will have to conform to incorporating new language instead of rejecting it. Academic writing does change overtime as new expressions come up, but it is at a slow pace while having a confusing metric for determining what new language can be considered academic.

        Vershawn Young mentions a quote from Stanley Fish’s Should Writers Use They Own English, he states, “Yeah, he tell teachers to fake like students have language rites. He say, If students infected with the facile egalitarianism of soft multi- culturalism declare, “I have a right to my own language,” reply, “Yes, you do, and I am not here to take that language from you; I’m here to teach you another one.” (Who could object to learn- ing a second language?) And then get on with it. (Fish Part 3).”(Young 3). Young’s criticism of Fish’s outtake on teaching academic writing highlights a contradiction Fish made in his article. He further claims, “You cant start off sayin, “disabuse yo’self of the notion that students have a right to they dialect” and then say to tell students: “Y’all do have a right.” That be hypocritical.”(Young 3). These two quotes show the faulty definition of freedom when it comes to academic writing, the formalities put in place by the teacher doesn’t always match the comfortable formalities of our personal code. This makes our expressions and words feel less personal, even though they are still coming from our thoughts, they have been influenced by the guidelines of our audience making them accustomed to someone else’s liking or belief for situational comfort. All of this offers less to little room for freedom of our mind when writing.

        This video from YouTube shows President Barack Obama shaking hands with people, and he greets the two white people in the video with a classic hand shake while he slaps up Kevin Durant. A slap up is a more interactive greeting stemming from African American culture that consists of first interlocking thumbs to a palm slap then sliding down to lock the other four fingers, often then followed by a one arm hug with a certain number of back taps. This is a visual example of how President Obama code switched for a more comfortable greeting with Kevin Durant, however this switch caught the eye of many adding fuel to the discussion of code meshing. Taking the perspective of the other two individuals in the video, could they have felt more included if they had been greeted with the same handshake? They most likely did feel some sort of seclusion in the room, and this seclusion can too be found in our diction. 

        To make a more inclusive and diversified writing environment for students, teachers should highly consider accepting less formal or different code writing. This is best for the students because it allows them to express themselves the best way they know how with no reservations. It begins with asking questions about what an unknown word or phrase means instead of classifying it as gibberish. People need to possess the will to understand one another and in return they will also be able to express themselves however they see best. Code meshing can offer a range of cultural possibilities whereas code switching pressures individuals to conform to specific formalities of a situation even when it may make them less comfortable. A solution is to reconstruct the narrative around teaching academic writing from stressing formality to more so stressing diversity. This allows for true freedom of expression which leads to ultimate comfortability in situations. Respect is given to individuals who understand others. People have many ways of expressing and connecting with one another, and this is why code meshing offers so much for human connection. 

Works Cited

Dimond, O. (2021, February 10). The benefits of code meshing in academic writing. The Bates Student. Retrieved March 29, 2022, from https://thebatesstudent.com/21125/arts-leisure/the-benefits-of-code-meshing-in-academic-writing/

Graham, S. (2019, May 22). Changing how writing is taught. Sage Journals Review f Research in Education. Retrieved March 29, 2022, from https://doi.org/10.3102/0091732X18821125

McCluney, C. Robotham, K. Lee, S. Smith, R. Durkee, M. (2021, January 28). The costs of code-switching. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved March 29, 2022, from https://hbr.org/2019/11/the-costs-of-codeswitching

Young, V. A., (2010) “Should Writers Use They Own English?”, Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies 12(1), p.110-117.







Sarah Leffler Project 3

April 6, 2022 by · No Comments · Rhetorical Choice (Project 3)


When it comes to teaching writing in school, there were always certain rules that we had to follow. We weren’t allowed to use words like “I”, “you”, or “we”, and we weren’t allowed to use apostrophes. This not only made writing very difficult, but it also made students seem robotic, we all sounded the same, and the individuality in our writing styles was harder to shine through. The way that we are taught to write is unnatural and outdated, we should be taught to write in a way that is more similar to how we speak.

Today, writing is taught in both high school and college, but each focuses on different aspects of the skill. In high school, students are taught English as a whole, as well as the mechanics of the language itself; grammar, parts of speech, and punctuation, as well as how to apply them. Fish claims that “you’re not going to be able to change the world if you are not equipped with the tools that speak to its present condition” (Fish 2). Without being taught how English works, one will never be able to use it effectively. In college, students are taught how to write in different styles using the skills that they have previously learned. Once the basics are taught, the different styles become much easier to learn, “there is only one thing to be learned, that a sentence is a structure of logical relationships; everything else follows” (Fish 3). Although the way that we are taught to write as well as to apply these skills makes sense, the writing that students produce tends to still sound unnatural and in some cases, even awkward. 

Each person has their own dialect of English, as well as their own slang, word choice, and style overall. Teaching students a specific style of writing wipes away one’s individuality and makes writing itself harder. There should be no standard style of English because it makes writing unenjoyable and harder to produce a good product. One way to fix this issue is “instead of prescribing how folks should write or speak, I say we teach language descriptively” (Young 4). By teaching students how to incorporate their own language into their writing compared to the right way to write, I truly believe that students will enjoy writing more and as a result, produce better pieces. In modern-day, most people don’t know the proper way to speak English, let alone use it, so why should it still be taught in such depth? “The narrow, prescriptive lens be messin writers and readers all the way up, cuz we all been taught to respect the dominant way to write, even if we dont, cant, or wont ever write that one way ourselves” (Young 4). If we as a society allowed for students to write in the same way that they spoke, writing overall would produce better pieces.

Language is a skill that is taught before one is even born, however, reading and writing are both skills that take time and effort to learn. English itself has many rules and mechanics that we all subconsciously follow and don’t necessarily need to be taught. That being said, “in the United States, the federal government estimates that 14 percent of the adult population is “below basic” and unable to perform functional reading tasks (National Adult Literacy Survey, 2003)” (Moats and Tolman). Instead of teaching students how to change their writing in order to meet a standard, they should be taught how to integrate their previous knowledge into their writing. By doing so, students would be able to spend their time in school focusing on how to understand what they’re saying instead of the right way to say it. “Human brains are naturally wired to speak; they are not naturally wired to read and write” (Moats and Tolman) so when one is asked to change their style of writing for each project, it is more complex than it needs to be. If students were taught how to use their previous knowledge in their writing, more people would be literate due to the amount of time that they could spend applying instead of attempting to learn.

Some people may argue that since speaking and writing, in themselves, are two different skills, one’s writing should not reflect the way that they speak. When it comes to writing, there is one standard that most people are able to understand and produce themselves, but each person’s writing style is vastly different. One reason for this is that “while verbal speech tends to be full of unstructured phrases and even random thoughts, the written word is generally more structured and focused” (Cline). Creating this standard, it allows for all writing to be uniform and generally understood, whereas each person has their own dialect which could make writing confusing. By having students learn a basic writing standard, it allows for easier grading, understanding, and a common literacy in writing. Although this may be true, one’s language is unique to themselves, and their writing style should reflect that.  Cline even agrees, “​​adding slang and simplifying your vocabulary—when done deliberately and thoughtfully—can make your writing more engaging and fun to read”. Not only is writing in the way you speak easier, but it allows for the reader to get to know you better, and can even become a more enjoyable read.

Today, students are taught to write in a specific way that doesn’t reflect the way they speak, thus resulting in their writing sounding both unnatural and outdated. Even in this essay, I’m writing in a way that I was taught. When I speak in real life, I sound less formal, don’t follow grammar rules exactly, and I use many more exclamation points! But due to the way that I was taught, my writing never sounds like me, which is incredibly frustrating. I do agree that there should be some rules in place, a comma here, a period there, it just makes it easier to read. That being said, even when I talk in the way I do in real life, I pause so when I write, I put the punctuation wherever I’d really breathe. I love writing, but I hate when I get points taken off for grammar, or when I forget to capitalize a letter, or when I forget to take out an apostrophe. In real life, these things don’t matter, why should they matter when I write? You know what I’m trying to say, why should we meet a standard that no one follows in the real world?

Works Cited

Cline, Casey. “Do You Write the Way You Speak? Here’s Why Most Good Writers Don’t.” 

Verblio, 11 June 2020, https://www.verblio.com/blog/write-the-way-you-speak. 

Fish, Stanley. “What Should Colleges Teach? Part 3.” The New York Times, The New York 

Times, 8 Sept. 2009, 


Moats, Louisa, and Carol Tolman. “Speaking Is Natural; Reading and Writing Are Not.” Reading 

Rockets, 29 Aug. 2019, https://www.readingrockets.org/article/speaking-natural-reading-and-writing-are-not. 

Young, Vershawn Ashanti. “Should Writers Use They Own English?” Iowa Journal of Cultural 

Studies, vol. 12, no. 1, 2010, pp. 110–117., https://doi.org/10.17077/2168-569x.1095.

Why Make Writing Sound Formal in America? (By Cassidy Stubbs)

April 6, 2022 by · No Comments · Rhetorical Choice (Project 3)

Why Make Writing Sound Formal in America?

One of the most important lessons taught at an early age in life is learning how to read and write. Throughout America not only is everyone taught differently but raised from different environments and regions causing our speech to gravitate away from being informal. We are expected to write professionally and talk without using “slang” words. We are expected to avoid particular words such as “y’all” and “like.” There are thousands of words that we use daily that are unprofessional or disrespectful to the English language. Stanley Fish, known to share his ideas within the teachings of Standard American English, believes that any other language that has to deal with anything against the standard written English language is unacceptable in any academic writing. Fish discusses the importance of private education, such as Catholic schools, who do a successful job in teaching students the importance of Standard American English grammar. 

Catholic schools and many other private schools in his defense do a fantastic job keeping their students well educated. Majority of students pay for private education which allows them to receive endless amounts of one-on-one attention giving them the opportunity to better  understand Standard American English. Public education does not have the type of one-on-one attention that private education has which can affect certain students who have a tougher time comprehending. Some believe that the reason why private school students are smarter is because of the education that they pay for, but in all honesty it is the same education but the difference is the one-on-one attention and the fact that private school students get corrected everytime they say something the wrong way unlike public schools who have thousands and thousands of students.  

Catholic and other private school education is not a requirement for success, but it is recommended. Michael Godsey, a veteran public school teacher, discusses his thoughts on education differences between public schools and private schools. He did not mention the public school that he worked and coached for but he did write about his daughter attending San Luis Obispo Classical Academy (SLOCA), a private school in Central California. At the time when he was teaching at a public school he would observe the differences in both the educations. Godsey loved the fact that SLOCA promotes “personal character” and “love of learning.” He enjoyed watching his daughter get involved with things that public education never offered. Michael Godsey spoke out about why he taught public school while he had his daughter in private education and said, “I chose to teach in a public high school precisely because I pitied the children who felt forced to be at school, who felt trapped like I did when I was their age.” He understood that so many of his students could not afford schools like that so he wanted to do his best to give them the best education possible. He also pointed out that kids in public schools are just the same as kids in private schools. Godsey said, “They are not harmful or malicious, and most of them aren’t even consciously rude. They’re just “cool” by default, the opposite of being intrinsically “stoked” or “pumped” (to borrow a few words from their vocabulary) about learning.” He understands that his students struggle in grammar and writing more than private school students because they do not have the opportunities nor do they have the one-on-one attention. They are surrounded by “slang” terms and they are never corrected. 

Correction is the issue in this generation today. We think that these young students and adults are struggling using the correct terms because of schooling but in reality they are in environments that do not correct them. They are raised in states of different accents and languages and are taught by the adults who grew up in the same place they did. Fish believes that education is the cause, but not only is education important but mainly the correction is what is needed. Early education is a requirement and is a huge benefit when it comes to learning the importance of Standard American English, but education can only last and be retained so long.

Vershawn Ashanti Young expresses the importance of dominant language ideology. In other terms this is the idea that individuals can speak however they please outside of their source of education. This is what every American takes advantage of. We are not required to speak properly outside of our education but while being in school we are expected to perform professionally. The reason why Fish is so adamant about the practice of Standard American English is so that we do not lose what we learn and get into an even bigger habit of saying the things we want to say. Young believes that the problem we have today is that we say whatever we want but when the time comes to enter a professional interview then we need to step it up. Fish sees this as a problem as well but sees it in a different perspective then Young. Fish views communication as a lack of education and discipline while Young believes that communication and language is based on the environment that you are surrounded by.

I have been raised in a southern environment and private education my entire life. My argument and personal opinion on this varies. I do believe that the way we talk is based more on the environment we are surrounded by. I do believe that education helps, but growing up in private education and having friends in public schools there is no difference in the education. The way we talk is based on the area we live in and the way our parents raise us. Growing up my parents corrected me on everything I said and did. I was constantly taught the correct way to speak to people, but living in the south we were allowed to get away with using the word “y’all.” Even in school we were never taught to not use it. I have always known that “you all” is the correct term but in my environment “y’all” was the one word you could get away with even at school. 

Any education requires their English classes to focus on reading and writing comprehension and teaches us proper grammar so that we can focus on a successful career. The question behind this is, “Why are we required to make our writing sound formal and professional?” Not only do we need correct grammar and punctuation but we also need to be taught the importance of Standard American English, because if we continue to do so we will grow to become the new future. The generation today is expected to improve in technology and business and without the correct Standard American English we are looked at as uneducated and devoting to poor leadership for the newer generation that comes along. 

In conclusion both Fish and Young have a difference of opinion. Both have valid reasoning and how we need to get into the habit of practicing Standard American English so that when we do say the words that are against what we have been taught we will then correct it. Also, how we need to understand that outside of our careers and education we do have the right to speak how we want, but at the end we need to understand the correct way to write an email or talk to our customers in a professional manner. No matter what, Americans will talk the way they do based on how they are raised, but for the future of the next generation we are called to meet the requirements of Standard American English so that we will become the best we can possibly be. 



Godsey, M. (2015, March 5). Why I’m a public-school teacher but a private-school parent. The Atlantic. Retrieved March 26, 2022, from https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/03/why-im-a-public-school-teacher-but-a-private-school-parent/386797/ Accessed Mar 26, 2022

 Avoid writing. McDaniel College Writing Center. (n.d.). Retrieved March 26, 2022, from https://writingcenter.mcdaniel.edu/top-10-slang-words-to-avoid-in-your-writing/ Accessed Mar 26, 2022

Fish, Stanley. “What Should Colleges Teach? Part 3.”

New York Times, 7 Sept. 2009, https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/07/what-should-colleges-teach-part-3/ Accessed Mar 26, 2022

Young, Vershawn Ashanti. “Should Writers Speak Their Own English?”

Iowa Journal or Cultural Studies, vol. 12, no. 1, 2010, pp. 109-118, https://lms.cofc.edu/d2l/le/content/268138/viewContent/3465819/View. Accessed Mar 26, 2022

English Education: Grading | By Samuel Levis

April 6, 2022 by · No Comments · Rhetorical Choice (Project 3)

By: Samuel Levis


English Education: Grading

Many students in college and even high school struggle with grades, dreaded grades that almost everyone dislikes. They are determining factors when it comes to have good knowledge of a subject such as Math and English. Speaking of English, this language as many sorts of varieties according to Vershawn Young’s work “Should Writers Use They Own English?” As you can tell this writing of Young’s work is original involving his own way of writing. In many people’s eyes there are mistakes and punctuation issues, but in Young’s eyes they aren’t. He claims that his writing is correct and should be respected because it’s not wrong, right? Stanly Fish, the writer of “What Should Colleges Teach?”, has a different point of view, different from Young. Fish claims to think that there is only one way to write English and that way is “standard English.” Standard English is “proper English” as fish states, but doesn’t that mean every other dialect is improper? According to fish, “Using your own language (variation of English) to write an academic paper is vulnerable to prejudice.” (Fish, 2009) It seems like this “you own language” seems to be rude to people’s eyes and should be avoided. It may be inappropriate in a professional setting because you must use “proper English.”

In academic school such as primary, secondary, and post-secondary, students, especially in high school and college, have the opportunity to take a course based on the English language and it’s not really learning more English, its more about making connections with the English language in forms such as reading for example, literature. As students read and comprehend reading assignments, they are expected to write some sort of essay or summary of what they read. And of course, when it comes to school, there are grades to be mastered upon meaning you must earn a certain number of points to get a “good” grade showing that strength of the knowledge you know about that subject. The problem with grading in English language assignments is that students perceive their grade as an insult because the teacher does not agree with a certain student’s writing such as it being not clear or having grammatical issues, it seems to be wrong. Points are awarded low when either the teacher notices errors or does not understand the writing itself. This grading must be done by a teacher meaning that it’s under the influence of someone else judgment. Does that mean the correct way to right is influenced by others? So, when fish explains that your writing is susceptible to prejudice it’s because of peer pressure. If fish says that there is only one way to write English, doesn’t that mean that if 1 student in an English literature class gets 100 points but everyone else didn’t write the paper like that one student. After this instance, students start to perceive the assignment as incorrect writing which therefore need to be banned, this causes a bad image for those who happen to speak a certain dialect. Students learning English is almost the same as learning any other subject for that matter. Yes, there is a “right or correct” answer to a problem but you can find the right answer and not know how you ended up with the answer. An alternative would be that I show you the steps to solve this problem but, in the end, I just made it up with no logic behind it. Young has this approach to it, as it can be just another way of communicating.

Is there always a right answer? According to Young, yes, but it can be right in different ways. Young encourages people to continue writing the English that they grew up because its just a way of communicating a story such as a problem, solution, adventure packed literature or whatever motivates you tell a large audience about something. The English that we, students learn in school is what we’re used to writing and reading. If we write in any other way, “improperly”, students are marked down by our teachers because of that. This low mark in the grade is not really because the teacher doesn’t like you but more of how the teacher is taught or learned is correct and should be monitored in the teaching of others. This constricts our writing into a box, not allowing us to cultivate our ideas so that its creative, unique, and original the way we want to. The writing standard that has been instilled in us closes off many creative possibilities in writing. With the grading system in US school its thought that if you have a low grade, it means you are not intelligent or not understand the subject at all, you’re dumb! That’s not the case at all, People who write are trying to tell a story, that story is unique to every. Fish argues that people should be code-switching while Young encourages code-meshing to write. Code-switching means to switch the dialect you’re speaking between different settings such as the way you speak at home versus at an academic setting of in a professional work environment, this includes writing as well such as texting your friends versus emailing your boss. Code-meshing is the idea of using all the dialects you speak and putting them together as one “English” resulting in writing just one dialect which can be uniquely your own. Young encourages that people should be free to speak and write however they want because they can express a message in a way that is not restricted. I do also agree with Fish’s point of having a correct English because I can’t just write gibberish such as, “iuwrhgbvfkjbv”, and call that English. That is nonsense even if I “translate” it to you so that people would understand. People simply won’t recognize that language that I totally made up.

In school, if a student of higher education has a “passing grade” in a certain subject, does not mean that they are demonstrating it correctly or even have the knowledge at all. Many of these grades are based on judgment of the teacher, especially English language courses. This judgement is a level of expectation so they set the bar somewhat low so that they can keep teaching or make sense on their reasoning for the grade. This does not address that fact that a grading system is useless, but it doesn’t make sense in certain settings. For example, in a math course there will always be a correct answer and there will almost always be correct way to solve that problem. So if I take a math test involving algebra and I get all the questions correct but do not show any evidence of solving the problem, I have not demonstrated the knowledge of solving a problem using algebraic equations.

The language “English” first became a way in which we can communicate to one another, and it wasn’t perfect at first and it still isn’t but sure is effective in conveying a message to someone. This language has changed through humanity due to societal norms in which we change, many factors my include environment, attitude, and pronunciation. The problem with these changes is people may not accept it due to it being new and somewhat harder to understand without studying this new dialect. Not everyone speaks the same dialect as one another. For example, Fish speaks/writes differently than Young, now the argument here is which one is easier to understand. Fish seems to treat different dialects as a completely different language such English to Russian, but because of this Fish sounds to be confused if he heard a variation in the English language assuming it “not normal.” So if a teacher/professor doesn’t understand what the students writing due to errors, imperfections, “UNUSUAL DIALECT” and the teacher gives them a low score or even a failing score, well now the student can argue they were using a their own English in the writing. What happens now? Does the teacher argue the fact that they are wrong? So, whose right here Fish or Young? I can’t just tell my teacher/professor “I used my own language, so change my grade.” There are other factors to change that grade such as explaining to the teacher is a language that they may understand.

In conclusion, everyone who speaks/writes English knows how to speak/write at home or in a professional setting. However, whether you are writer a paper of have a writing assignment for an English course, there will be times in which the English you write is not “correct” and should be corrected to write proper English. Despite thing argument, you should also consider that you are free to speak/write you own language if and when you are conveying a message because you know what’s appropriate. Of the dialect you are speaking/writing to someone such as a teacher should be clearly understood by you and the reader.

Modern Writing and Code-Switching Vs. Code-Meshing

April 5, 2022 by · No Comments · Rhetorical Choice (Project 3)

By: Devin Lamontagne

In modern times with social media and new slang popping up everywhere, it can be difficult for some to separate vocabulary learned on TikTok and from peers versus the vocabulary learned in school. “Should people be allowed to write as they speak?” In my opinion, I don’t think that people should be taught to write exactly as they speak, but I do think that we should allow for the self-expression of cultural variation in writing. One might ask themself, “Why can’t I just write like I would send my friend a text?” In most cases, this is how they speak. In reality, you can. You have the freedom to do so, but I would suggest that you don’t write as you speak, or at least not yet anyway. Grade-School English classes have ingrained in students that writing this way equals a bad grade on your work. The world is indeed becoming more and more accepting of different vocabularies and ways of writing. This newfound acceptance goes alongside the expansion of various cultures and new ideologies, but that is a discussion for another time. For academic and professional purposes though, the formal style of writing is still expected in school and at work. Why not? Why do we as English learners need to separate formal writing and casual everyday text? While the English language has become a lot more slang-infused, a formal style of writing remains. While phrases like “lol” or “omg” shouldn’t be put into a formal piece of writing or an academic paper; other forms of the English language such as AAVE (African American Vernacular English) should not be looked at as informal writing.
Every person’s vocabulary is different, stemming from their upbringing at home and early years of education. Stanley Fish and Vershawn Ashanti Young, two authors who’ve previously covered this topic give their perspectives on this debate. Young thinks that people should be able to use their grammar in text, also known as code-meshing. Fish thinks that students should continue to be taught the structures of standard written English and be advised against using other types of English, which we would call code-switching. “Code-switching promotes internalized racism and prevents students from bringing their authentic selves to the classroom” according to the University Writing Center at the University of Texas at Austin. “Code-meshing, in contrast to code-switching, encourages students to draw from all their linguistic resources. It prompts students to mesh, or bring together multiple language traditions” (UWC Texas 1 ). With this small preview of these authors’ arguments and a University’s standpoint on the topic, one without prior knowledge of this topic can begin to create their own opinion as to whether or not we should be able to write as we speak.
Stanley Fish notes in What Should Colleges Teach? “If students infected with the facile egalitarianism of soft multiculturalism declare, “I have a right to my own language,” reply, “Yes, you do, and I am not here to take that language from you; I’m here to teach you another one.” This is the way that we have been teaching students to write. Instead of stripping them completely of their cultural variances, we suggest a ‘better’ way of doing it. While this may seem progressive, it is just teaching students that there is only one way to write. Young’s argument directly comments on Fish’s. Young writes in Should Writers Use They Own English? ”dont nobody’s language, dialect, or style make them “vulnerable to preju-dice.” It’s ATTITUDES. It be the way folks with some power perceive other people’s language.” In other words, he is arguing that it’s not the way people write that makes it informal or incorrect, as they’re often regarded, but rather the people reading that writing that decides it is. I partially agree with his statement, but this goes back to what I’ve previously stated, that the ‘better’ way of writing Fish advocates for is explicitly what is taught in schools, setting the standard for what the formality of English should be. Viewing Young’s argument from a different stance, if students are taught from the start of their academic careers a more inclusive approach similar to the one I’m advocating for, their attitudes will be less harsh to variances in writing styles. My argument is that while there still needs to be a formal style of writing, create a new formal style of writing with more inclusivity and fewer restrictions on cultural variances, while still guiding students in making that writing comprehensible to all. This guidance should include correct word choice, some punctuation rules, sentence structure, and paragraph structure. For example, a sentence like “you comin to the sto wit me or nah” (McClellan 2014) is written in AAVE. If we changed this sentence to one with slightly more traditional rules (while keeping the original vocabulary), we would have a more comprehensive sentence like “Are you comin’ to the sto with me or nah?” This sentence now includes proper punctuation (an apostrophe on the word comin’), capitalization, a question mark on the end to clarify that this is a question, and an added “Are” at the beginning to include a verb before ‘you’.
In the spirit of fairness, I don’t think that everyone’s attitude toward informal writing is the same in today’s society. We have a lot more diversity in our school systems and professional places of work, who may very well be okay with receiving work that includes some informality. I don’t completely agree with either author’s standing on this discussion. This is not to say that all rules of traditional English should be completely disregarded from here on out. I believe that people need to be taught to be more accommodating to AAVE and other variances of English when it comes to formal writing. It’s not that these forms of English are informal, it’s just a cultural difference in the way that people express themselves. It has been taught throughout years of English classes that sentences like the one quoted from Young in paragraph two or the other quoted in paragraph three are severely informal from the vocabulary down to the structure of the sentence. This even seems informal to me, but this coming from a college student who has been in English classes his entire life thus far and taught traditional English is the only way to reach a good grade. To achieve a more versatile way of writing, I think the first step should be teaching students at a young age that it’s okay to use their vocabularies and be themselves in a piece of writing. Offer students new ways of shaping their writing into a work that is comprehensible for everyone. After all, it would be the teacher’s responsibility to guide them into making their writing make sense for those who don’t come from their background to promote the spread of originality and diversity in writing.

Works Cited

Fickling, Teri. Code-Switching-and-Code-Meshing. Apr. 2021,
Thompson, Matt. “Five Reasons Why People Code-Switch.” NPR, NPR, 13 Apr. 2013,
https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2013/04/13/177126294/five-reasons-why-peopl e-code-switch.
Fish, Stanley. “What Should Colleges Teach? Part 3.” New York Times, 7 Sept. 2009,
Young, Vershawn Ashanti. “Should Writers Speak They Own English?” Iowa Journal or Cultural
Studies, vol. 12, no. 1, 2010, pp. 109-118, https://lms.cofc.edu/d2l/le/content/268138/viewContent/3465819/View. Accessed 28 March 2022.
McClellan, Charnelle. “‘What Yo Name Is?” – Realistic Modern Examples of AAVE/Slang.” The
AAVE Blog: A Closer Look at African American Vernacular English, 21 Feb. 2014, https://acloserlookataave.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/what-yo-name-is-modern-examples-of-aaveslang/.

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