Standard English


What is Standard English?

-Standard English refers to a dialect which has become the norm for representing the English Language.

-It is accepted as clear and proper in both speech and writing.

-Dialect features of grammar, vocabulary and orthography.

-Standard English can be spoken in ANY LANGUAGE.

-David Crystal says there are 5 key characteristics:

-It is not regionally based.

-Can be spoken in any language.

-Associated with people of a high social status.

-Promoted by educational institutions because it is the form of English that is most widely understood.

-SE is the variety that is commonly used in printed texts, however only a minority use it when they speak.

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Origins of Standard English

-SE has its origins in the East Midland dialect.

-Spoken during the Middle Ages.

-When William Caxton set up England's first printing press in 1476, he decided to follow the spelling conventions of this dialect and use it when he published English Language translations of foreign texts.

-Development of standard variety of English continued in the 18th century, when many books and dictionaries were published.

-Johnson's dictionary promoted the standardisation of word meanings and spellings.

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Attitudes towards Standard English

-John Honey believes SE is the superior dialect in many situations and continuing with regional dialects will disadvantage people later in life.

-SE is regarded by many as the most 'correct' form of English.

-It is the variety that children are taught to write. Complaints about sloppy or incorrect use of the language usually refer to deviations from SE.

-Linguistics, however, are careful not to describe particular varieties of English as 'good' or 'bad' or 'better' or 'worse' than other varieties.

-They prefer to note the differences beteeeb the varieties and the appropriateness of variaties to particular situations.

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Uses of Standard English

-Written in formal documents e.g. reports of essays.

-Spoken in formal utterances e.g. job interviews.

-Many combine SE with regional features.

-Example: 'I gave it to me sister' - incorrect form.
'I gave it to my sister' - SE.

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Standardistation of English

-Standardisation of a dialect usually takes place in 4 stages:

1. Selection - 14th century merchant class in London.

2. Acceptance - Middle of the 15th century it was used in official documents.

3. Elaboration - As the Standard began to spread through the Church and Government, the vocabulary of SE was also expanded.

4. Codifictation - The language became documented order to reinforce the accepted variety.

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Standard English Debate

-John Honey: believes that SE is the superior dialect in many situations and therefore continuing with regional dialects, will disadvantage people later on in life.

-Opponents of Honey believe that SE is appropriate in more formal situations, but it isn't superior to other dialects.

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