Gretchen McCulloch “Good English” – Journal Entry #3

In Gretchen McCulloch’s article, “Why Do You Think You’re Right about Language? You’re Not,” explains what is called a “micro language.” She states that English speakers have “an intuitive sense of what sounds like fluent use of language and what doesn’t.” According to her article, we all have our own micro language, these different languages are often the by product of being a different race, gender, education or geographic location.

Our personal languages are influence by many other aspect such as the culture we consume. The types of books we read, jobs we have or hobbies can result in different vocabularies being created. McCulloch argues that “no two people end up speaking the same language.” The term for the individual dialect we all have is “idiolect.” This concept includes everything from word choice, to pronunciation and even color differences.

We all create our own English throughout our lives, picking up preferred aspects we find in the environment. However, no one “English” is better than another. It still matters whether we agree on “some writing conventions,” and we can continue to value “concise and well-organized speech or writing.” McCulloch concludes that, the “best” English often means the language spoken by the most powerful. While seeking to gain status by learning this English is reasonable, it’s an example of the privilege some people are born with.

Having the “proper” English happens by luck. None of us can control where we are born, so why penalize people for how we speak. Gretchen McCulloch argues that we penalize people to maintain already established power structures and I agree. Clearly, the concept of a “good” English is arbitrary. It might be best to simply speak the English we grew up with, we could learn from each other.

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