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High Price, by Carl Hart, PhD, is an autobiography and debunking of US drug policy which also contains language issues. Once Hart, who was raised in a black "ghetto," moves into the mainstream, and adopts middle-class, then scientific speech patterns and vocabulary, he finds it difficult to not insult his former friends and family because of his "white man's language." An interesting look at the cultural gap of poverty and wealth financially, verbally, and socially. IMHO, a must-read if you're in health care, social work, law enforcement, or politics.


It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. -J. Krishnamurti
 
Posts: 4441 | Location: In a cornfield in central IndianaReply With QuoteReport This Post
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Strange that he does not know how to switch registers. Almost everybody I know does. Has he forgotten his previous way of speaking or is he just embarrassed to speak that way now? I've always had my doubts about this sort of thing.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Yes, I'd think he'd be able to go back to his former ways, too.

It sounds like a good book. I'm on it!
 
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I got the feeling that even one old register term raised eyebrows, but then it might be his relatives were/are more sensitive than you or I would be. Read it and see what you think.

Z, you are a master of register shifting; Hart might not be.


It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. -J. Krishnamurti
 
Posts: 4441 | Location: In a cornfield in central IndianaReply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hart might not be.

Oh, it's something that comes naturally to most speakers of most languages. It's pretty much a sociological fact. I encounter it often where I live. Most speakers of AAVE will try to accommodate non-AAVE speakers by shifting their register to something more like the standard regional dialect. I think Hart has consciously chosen not to speak AAVE.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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I seem to recall reading that Obama got ridiculed by some when he switched registers to speak to an audience composed of African Americans. You can't win, it seems.

I don't think Obama was raised in a ghetto, though.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Obama was raised middle class, and was condemned for dropping "ing" endings, feigning lower class speech. Probably not a direct comparison.


It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. -J. Krishnamurti
 
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You can't win, it seems.

I noticed this with some linguists once. At the end of the semester our professor took us out for a meal and drinks (this was in Salzburg). As the evening wore on, I noticed our Harvard professor was sounding more and more like a Texan (it turns out he was from Texas.) One fellow (from Oxford) started sounding more and more like he came from the East End of London. The next day, the professor told us he was from Texas and was proud of the fact. The Oxonian on the other hand was mortified that he'd let his Cockney origins out.

Some people get tongue-tied around me when they find out I am a linguist. Others enjoy showing off their particular sociolect or dialect. Language is definitely a hot-button topic for many people.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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