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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Another Form Of White Privilege?


I've spent my entire career of 40+ years teaching students in Kindergarten through college the rules of grammar in various English, Latin, and Spanish courses.

Before long, I may be forced to retire my gold badge.

Now comes the declaration that correct grammar is racist and elitist.  "And just plain wrong."

So claims Mona Chalabi, the data editor of the Guardian.

From NewsBusters, citing the Daily Wire (emphases mine):
Apparently having good grammar or correcting someone else’s grammar means you are a racist and experiencing yet another form of “white privilege.” At least that’s what The Guardian’s data editor, Mona Chalabi believes. Chalabi also thinks grammar rules were created by wealthy white people and can be ignored by minorities without facing any criticism:

“Grammar snobs are patronizing, pretentious, and just plain wrong.”



This sounds quite unbelievable, but sadly, it’s no joke. Chalabi argues that using good grammar or correcting one’s grammar is just another way to shut up minorities:

“The people pointing out the mistakes are more likely to be older, wealthier, whiter, or just plain academic than the people they’re treating with condescension…All too often, it’s a way to silence people and that’s particularly offensive when it’s someone who might already be struggling to speak up.”

Instead of correcting grammar, Chalabi maintains that people should just shut up and listen:

“We should spend more time listening to what others have to say and less focusing on the grammar what they say it with,” Chalabi says, and claims these grammar rules “aren’t commonly held at all” – they are basically white people rules.

The ability to speak and write appropriately isn’t a “white privilege,” it’s a sign of an educated person, and I’m quite sure Chalabi would agree that white people aren’t the only educated people in the world. No, Chalabi is only perpetuating the notion that EVERYTHING is racist or racism can be found in anything, anywhere – including grammar.

What is it with the left, always trying to dumb down their side and promote low expectations? Why not try to better an individual, rather than keep the status quo?

It’s no surprise then, to learn Chalabi made a BBC documentary titled Is Britain Racist? I'm sure "white privilege" came up more than once. They tried to prove racism by....handing out free donuts.

ALL STANDARDS ARE RACIST!

ALL STANDARDS ARE RACIST!

48 comments:

  1. We sometimes call people who correct grammar and spelling "editors". Is it safe to assume that in the interest of rooting out racism, the Guardian has now fired all its editors?

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  2. Hoo dat wat say? u crazy right?

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  3. Rushing to the bottom. Who can get there first. What virus has infected America's intellect?

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    1. That virus seems to have infected the entire Western World. We are supposed to be bitterly shamed of ourselves for having done so well in comparison to the other 85-90% who have largely remained in primitive, sub-standard, quasi-Mediaeval conditions.

      It's not enough to acknowledge that we have made mistakes. Apparently now nothing less than SELF-ANNIHILATION will satisfy the Leftist Champions of the Non-White World.

      Even the thought of bringing backward and downtrodden peoples UP to OUR relatively advanced, august standards is now considered insulting, bigoted and demeaning to those some of us would honestly like to help.

      Delete
  4. Charlton Laird cured me of being a grammar snob decades ago by by pointing out that English doesn't have a grammar, much less a proper one, since what we have now is Latin grammar superimposed onto English. (Hence all the exceptions.) His point being that the structural differences between Classical Latin, an inflected language, and English, a distributive one whose meanings are determined by the positioning of the words, allow one to construct perfectly grammatical English sentences that make no sense at all.

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    1. My point is that Ms Chalabi is not entirely wrong. Languages do evolve, and English more rapidly than most. Blaming rich white people is a canard, as it was probably poor Oxford dons centuries ago. The bottom line is, if it makes sense, it's good English. The point of language being to convey information, not to follow rules.

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    2. I've been put down often enough at Western Hero for daring to try to correct –– or at least expose –– flagrant examples of poor grammar and inelegant usage. Needless to say I resent what-I-see-as-a relativistic approach to any attempt to maintain standards that I've given up. I no longer bother to approach the subject over there. I still see it as a cop-out, however.

      I have no problem at all with your use of the language, Viburnum, and very little with the others who run WH, but I do resent being waved off and dismissed as some sort of crank, which is how I've been made to feel too many times when I try to share bits of perfectly good things I happen to know and then.

      Perhaps I really am a "snob," –– according to contemporary definitions, which, of course, I do not respect –– but the way some of my suggestions have been rudely dismissed and denigrated can only be seen by me as an extension of the societal problem on which this article is centered.

      Anyone born after 1955 is, perforce, a victim of Cultural Degeneration. It's been in the Air, the Water, the Food, the Movies, Pop Music, and Mass Media since long before I was born.

      If the situation weren't so ludicrous, I'd burst into tears. Why the HELL did I ever bother to LEARN, when deze, demz, doze, UH! between every third word, ain't, ya know?, a superfluity of extraneous, misplaced propositions, an endless series of flagrantly split infinitives, complete loss of the possessive, virtual abandonment of the subjunctive, such linguistic atrocities as "less taxes" are now accepted as not that big of a deal, and a perfectly fine way to evaluate where we're at in this land where anything goes verbalizationwise these days.

      Delete
    3. For the life of me, I can't recall any instance where any of the principals at WH has ever dismissed you as a crank. We may disagree at times, but never discount your opinion, even when we debate it.

      Delete
    4. First off Freethinke, I agree with viburnum (doesn't surprise you, I imagine). English grammar is fluid. If you have read Shaw, you know from Pygmalion that this topic is nothing new.

      In addition, you should be a little circumspect when you criticize the visual arts since you are adrift when the topic is anything but easel painting.

      Delete
  5. Of course. This is a widespread narrative to excuse poor performance and crucify a scapegoat. From the Daily Caller's coverage of the "17th Annual White Privilege Conference":

    “The racial narrative of White tends to be like this: Rugged individual, honest, hard-working, disciplined, rigorous, successful,” she said. “And so then, the narrative of U.S. public education: Individual assessments, competition, outcome over process (I care more about your grades than how you’re doing), ‘discipline’ where we care more about your attendance and making sure you’re not tardy than we care about your relationships … proper English must be spoken (which is just assimilation into standard U.S. dialect), hierarchical power structure, and heavy goal orientation.”

    Up is down. Black is whi...oops, that was probably racist and privileged of me. The worst part is that we're collectively not batting down this bullshit like it should be. We're shaking our heads and clucking....and watching our Republic dissolve into Idiocracy.

    And we deserve it.

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    1. YUP! The questions we should ask might be:

      What, if anything CAN be done to halt the slide, which has been in progress all of my adult life?

      SHOULD we do anything about it, or should we just calmly accept Decline and Fall as a normal part of the cycle of any Civilization?

      Delete
    2. FT,
      SHOULD we do anything about it, or should we just calmly accept Decline and Fall as a normal part of the cycle of any Civilization?

      We should, but I've come to believe that it's a losing battle.

      Delete
    3. Sadly, for those of us who enjoy reading history, we know the ending. But can we delay the ending, and I believe we can. I often think of Washington during his darkest times and the sacrifices they made. I have to believe its possible.

      Delete
  6. Long ago, on an excellent PBS television series called Reilly, Ace of Spies, which was set during the tumultuous period of the Russian Revolution of 1917, one scene stood out, and has stayed with me to this day.

    The former aristocrats, and other highly educated, refined, cultivated "White Russians" were sent felling for their lives. In one memorable vignette, a beautiful, well-spoken young women warned one of her compatriots. "They're shooting anyone they can find who ha a posh accent."

    This is what the LEFT –– and other brutal conquerors before them –– have always sought to do: Denigrate, then Destroy Excellence - Destroy Faith - Stamp Out Every trace of Elegance and Refinement - Eradicate History - Spread Doubt, Fear, Hopelessness, and Confusion, then bring every thing and every one down to the lowest common denominator.

    Obviously this Chalabi virago is a committed MARXIST.

    I've HEARD her by the way –– part of an interview rebroadcast on talk radio. The URONY is that Chalabi, herself, speaks excellent standard British English with a highly refined, upper-class accent.

    Go figger! };^)>

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  7. AOW and SilverFiddle have been kind enough to notice, acknowledge, and occasionally even praise me for my generous use of an exceptionally wide vocabulary and my determined staging of a perpetual battle against disappearing standards of English grammar and usage.

    Few others have bothered to notice or care, except to express resentment, chide me for being a "Grammar Snob," or denigrate me for being unduly stubborn in clinging to the standards by which I was raised.

    I may be intransigent, but I shall DIE proudly upholding what I know POSITIVELY to be superior standards compared to the miserable, slovenly, highly-limited parlance in use today.

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    1. FT,
      About 8 years ago, I assigned my British Literature class to read Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe. Several parents decided to read the book, too.

      All of them -- students and parents -- discovered that their own working vocabulary was far below that which Ivanhoe uses. It took forever for the students and parents to read the novel because they had to use the dictionary so much of the time!

      The Ivanhoe vocabulary was easily understood without use of a dictionary throughout the pre-bellum South! In fact, the novel was the bestselling novel throughout the South of those days. "The common man" back then could read Ivanhoe relatively easily. But today, in the Age of Information and multiple college degrees, even "the educated man" can read Ivanhoe only with great difficulty.

      Sad. Very sad.

      Delete
    2. Illiteracy was at 20% in 1870, so there's clearly another way of looking at this. Would you recommend Ivanhoe to an adult (I haven't read it, but I gather that it was aimed at adolescents)?

      Delete
  8. Time for the re-education camps, where we shall have to beg forgiveness for our education and intelligence.
    As others here have alluded to, with some erudition, that is what Marxists will force on us.

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    1. Ed,
      Conformity to no standards will be required!

      Delete
  9. FT is right, of course...it's 'the slide' and this contributes to the slide. I know really bright people who say "me and my brother.." etc.
    So what, right? We don't necessarily judge someone by that, but what kind of education did they get? I think for some of us we couldn't say "me and my brother" if our life depended on it; we were raised otherwise....
    So, it's less snobbery and more just another sign of a slide that this whole ridiculous thing represents.
    Imagine telling people that they're racist, inferring that those who can't or won't speak correctly are better? My gosh.

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    1. Z,
      So, it's less snobbery and more just another sign of a slide that this whole ridiculous thing represents.

      Exactly!

      Delete
    2. Why thank you, Z! I appreciate your support.

      Delete
    3. She didn't say that people who use irregular grammar are better.

      She said we should spend as much time listening as we do correcting.
      Worthwhile advice.

      Delete
  10. Anything that displays intelligence is racist don't ya know.

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    1. Kid,
      Seems to have come to that sorry pass.

      Delete
    2. I wouldn't say that conforming to the rules of grammar requires intelligence, it only indicates that you care about language. An idiot could get his grammar right, if he cared enough.

      Delete
  11. In expression, ignoring content for a moment, my preferences are for clarity, style and correctness, in that order. In a hurry, I'll happily sacrifice the latter for either of the former.
    That said, let's not ignore content! Grammar policing is too often an excuse to dismiss another's point of view. This is a mistake, one which can wind up being racist in effect if not in intention, because of dialect.

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    1. Jez,
      I can't speak for others, but I can say for myself that correct grammar promotes both clarity and critical thinking.

      As a foreign language majors I know quite a bit about dialects and am accepting to them. Even so, there is such a thing as language standards, particularly pertaining to usage and grammar.

      I grade all compositions with two separate marks: one for content and the other for mechanics and style. That second category often earns a low score early in the term, but by mid-term, that second mark has come up. Why? Because that second score affects the students' course grade.

      Delete
    2. Well, it's subjective but IMO "repairing" a split infinitive, for example, seldom (never?) improves clarity.

      Delete
    3. AOW brings up a good point; doesn't a shift away from current, common standards....to a paradigm of literally 'whatever'...place an obstacle for immigrants of varying degrees of legality, who are trying to learn and master the English language. Wouldn't they be 'marginalized'?

      Of course, given the level of assimilation we seem to be witnessing....perhaps it's a moot point.

      Delete
    4. You and the others who seem to think the primary purpose of language is simply to impart information are not entirely wrong, Jez, but if that were really the case, we could easily adopt a TELEGRAMATIC form of communication reducing everything to the "You, Tarzan, me, Jane." level, and let it go at that. ;-)

      A language without nuance, wit, elegance, humor, –– a language that fails to be evocative of specific moods, feelings, atmosphere, historical periods, status, and to observe the vast differences that do exist between individuals, ethnic and religious groups, regions within a given country and of course the different nation states and native cultures in this world is painfully limited. Such a purely BASIC form of communication either ignores or frankly eschews the wonder, beauty, and glory to be found in great literature, poetry and fine, highly detailed, well-researched expository writing. It would also deny the ability to learn and appreciate the different forms of expression used during the various historical periods, and the specific authors and style variants each employed.

      An ever-growing, ever-more-refined and complex use of language is very possibly THE hallmark of a truly civilized people.

      It is not that i believe we ought never to change. If that were the case we'd still be using Chaucer's English or Shakespeare's English –– both magnificent forms of our common tongue with which we should never let ourselves lose contact –– but we ought at the very least to watch over the changes taking place, take the pains needed to separate the wheat from the chaff, encourage whatever healthy, interesting enriching developments may be taking place, while steadfastly maintaining the FOUNDATION on which our linguistic edifice has been built.

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    5. My preference for clarity above style and correctness is no rejection of periphrasis, but I wouldn't want to let it impede clarity -- I'm talking about my own writing in particular, I want my reader to grasp my point without undue effort, so if I compose a long sentence I take much trouble organising the flow so that it makes good, obvious sense and the side points don't overwhelm the main one (my redrafting process consists mostly of splitting long sentences into short ones, and replacing obscure words with simple ones - this is my primary use for a thesaurus!); but it's also a demand I make of material which I read -- I resent untangling unclear syntax and wading through excessive verbiage, so please everybody, tighten it up especially in official documents that I might be obliged to read; and if you do indulge yourself, don't be offended if I stop reading, or if that's not an option, I ask for a clearer draft. I'll happily rewrite this paragraph on request ;)
      Interestingly, you may recall that when Chaucer wrote there were half a dozen or so dialects of English, each very different from the others, and none dominant. Chaucer's popularity, together with the printing press, the internet of its day, helped the East Midlands flavour become the national standard. But the idea that different dialects follow a slightly different grammatical ruled goes back a long way.
      As for wheat and chaff, I think it acceptable to split infinitives at will - I think it can help indicate to which verb the adverb applies. I know you like them in tact, but i think that rule is chaff. Why?

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    6. Always: obviously, teaching is a context where correction is desirable. I think correcting people outside that context can be acceptable too, but we wouldn't want to silence or dismiss anyone for not following the rules. It's not always preferable anyway, should Bob Marley rewrite his lyrics? He fairly reliably got his normative accusative backwards, yet despite my grasp of syntax he's still a much better lyricist than I. (see? Now you can take me seriously! I know the subjunctive, too!)

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    7. All well and good, Jez, but much of that depends –– at least where I come from –– on the purpose and context of our writing –– and the audience to which it is aimed. For instance I wrote very differently when preparing a term paper for graduate school, than I do when writing personal letters to friends and family. I write differently again when submitting an article for publication in a regional journal. Differently yet again when writing short stories, or attempting to be light-hearted, whimsical or humorous. Certainly a great difference appears when I attempt poetry, satirical verse or items aimed primarily at children.

      I've never written a play, but I have produced a couple of minor radio scripts where it was important to give each character a unique voice depending on who or what he was supposed to be.

      Like the rules of harmony in tonal music the rules of grammar should be used only as GUIDELINES not fences or prison walls.
      HOWEVER, in my admittedly fixed opinion The Rules should be learned and mastered FIRST by students before we allow pupils to depart from them, and become "original."

      If we achieve grace, fluidity and variety while sedulously avoiding redundancy, one would think clarity should follow almost automatically.

      By the way I long ago formed the opinion that most textbooks dealing with technical material might best be written in outline form.

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    8. These matters are important to me too, I place them under the term "style," for which i am prepared to break the rules, remember. But I do think there's no point in, say, deep characterisation if the reader can't understand it, so when I write clarity remains the top priority.

      "If we achieve grace, fluidity and variety while sedulously avoiding redundancy, one would think clarity should follow almost automatically."

      These are all "style", and I don't agree. I think clarity is hard to achieve especially when the content is subtle or difficult, clarity demands the writer's specific attention.

      What sort of technical material? These things are often written in a second language, so simple english is a good idea. "Simple English" is a language option in wikipedia, I reckon it's the most important one.

      Delete
  12. Z typed in:

    I know really bright people who say "me and my brother.." etc.

    And many, many educated people say things such as "James went to the concert with my brother and I."

    No, no, no! Object of preposition! One should say "with my brother and me."

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    1. Similar error: "just between you and I."

      Object of preposition! It should read "just between you and me."

      Delete
  13. For many years, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem Evangeline used to be required reading before graduating 8th grade.

    Try reading Evangeline. How many 8th graders today can read that poem -- on both the decoding level and the comprehension level? In order to understand this poem, one has to be able to locate subjects and verbs. And that's just for starters.

    My middle schoolers and their parents read the entire poem this year. It was a chore for all, but everybody -- even the slowest student in the class -- loved it!

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  14. First of all, I tried to determine if the woman (cannot really call her a legit journalist) was related to Ahmed Chalabi, who we parachuted into Iraq. That man, was bad news. Couldn't find a link. But in tracing her digital footprint she does not have a degree ("attended university" usually means course requirements not met for the award of a degree). She also has quite a sketchy work history for being young:

    http://www.theguardian.com/profile/mona-chalabi

    She is "influential" because she is a convenient tool for the political Left. Anyone else also notice the "Muslim privilege" that occurred after 9/11. Suddenly, every newspaper was flooded with Islamic columnists, and they were (and continue to be) given the lead stories along with cohort reporting, after a terror attack; the first to tell us Islam is peaceful? Now perhaps, Ms. Chalabi is no more than Shi'a in name and not in practice. But her gifts have not made way for her, in Biblical fashion, a political construct has made way for her. Her family has probably also made way for her.

    Ignore her. She is not the brightest light in the sky, in spite of the pandering and posturing which suits an umbrella script regarding anti-West hatred and anti-White hatred.

    *Would you hire someone with such a flighty job history that is all over the board as far as any actual discernible talent? (She also uses the words "pee" and "masturbate" in question answer sessions, so I guess she does not engage elitist grammar herself.)

    Tammy

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  15. I have a method, technique and plan that works for me and here it is in a kind of extended nut shell:

    I am not some egg head academic so I use the vernacular of the vulgar to express myself and because I am kind of a rough cut character my words may offend some sensibilities on occasion ... to which I say .... "Sorry about that but either live with it or get the heck off my website."

    I do not have the level of arrogant vanity to presume I have the right or the credentials to be correcting other people on the Internet. Individuals are individuals because of their individuality and I feel that if I am going to experience Life and other people to my fullest ability then I am going to have to learn to live with other people's shortcomings as well as with their main selling points.

    Grammar Police are cool folks and I do believe they provide an invaluable service. And what might that service be?

    Well ini my book that service is a "Warning" to me that I am witnessing something that represents a presumed superiority to me and I am not ready to deal with that because I put my pants on much the same as most other men.

    You know the score: Love me or leave me. If you write it, write it the way you feel it or it comes across as contrived and phony and that will definitely drive people away from what you are trying to tell them.

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  16. mystere's moonbat slayer club
    I agree, and that's what I do to liberals! I slap them around, and laugh when they have a hissyfit over it. One of my continuing series is a post "Have You Laughed At A Liberal Today?…" Then, there are my blog sites Liberalmann Is A Dingbat and Lester Liberaldude Is A Dingbat, dedicated to slapping that stinky troll around. RN, Ducky and Ema Nymton have gotten guest beatdowns on those 2 sites as well. I can tell I've struck Pookie Toot Toot's nerves at times, as he's come by my sites to spew his hate and make a fool out of himself.

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  17. Hell, being intelligent is racisss these days. Right libtards?

    ReplyDelete

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