Standard American English

Total time for this activity: 25 minutes

During this activity, you will be working with a partner. First, spend about 10 minutes reading this short article entitled “Standard American English” by the University of Puget Sound. Then, work with your partner to discuss and answer the following questions posed in the article.

  • Do I assume the English that I speak and write is the only way to communicate ideas?
  • Do I use the terms “correct English” or “standard English” or “proper English”? If so, do I accept the value judgments inherent in these terms?
  • What assumptions do I make about a writer or speaker based on the English that they use?
  • What are words that I use in my writing and speech that may be markers of my culture?

In the remaining time, consider the following map that shows the word or phrase used for “you plural” in spoken English throughout the United States. Considering that prescriptive grammar requires “you” (by itself) for both the second person singular and second person plural pronoun but that almost no one uses “you” by itself when speaking for this purpose, what can you conclude about “Standard” English?