To appeal to voters, especially media-savvy and young voters, many politicians are now using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes, however, their ignorance of writing conventions on these sites just ends up making them seem like they’re they’re trying too hard. For example, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley recently got criticized for his awkward abbreviations on Twitter. This article on Politico collects his 12 “best” tweets–that is, his 12 most awkward Tweets. Here are two examples:

1. “Constituents askd why i am not outraged at PresO attack on supreme court independence. Bcause Am ppl r not stupid as this x prof of con law” (April 7).

2. “P” (April 7).

Sen. Grassley’s unintentionally funny tweets attracted the attention of political satirist Stephen Colbert, who launched the hashtag #IgotthetweetslikeGrassley and said on his show: “This isn’t just tweeting! It’s avant garde stream of consciousness poetry!” Inspired, Colbert then tweeted: “i m so xitEd 2 twt l1ke mY h3ro gr asslee u ess A!!! you ez Ey!!#igotthetweetslikegrassley“.

This conversation about 78 year old Senator Grassley’s tweets connects to the conversation we had about Naomi Baron’s work on txting. In class, you all asserted that you didn’t abbreviate very much when texting or tweeting, and sometimes found it obnoxious when others did. As the Stanford Study on Writing indicated, your generation is savvy about audience and kairos–knowing who you’re writing to and what kind of language is appropriate for that situation. What’s funny about Grassley’s tweets isn’t just his strange abbreviations, but the fact that he reads his kairos wrong: for example, he criticizes the President by saying the “Am ppl r not stupid” [the American people are not stupid]. While it’s fine if he criticizes the President, it seems inappropriate for him to do it in such a txtspeak kind of way.

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31 Responses to #IgotthetweetslikeGrassley

  1. Pitt88 says:


    In this article from The Pittsburgh Post Gazette website, representatives in Harrisburg are fighting to make English the official language in Pennsylvania. Two main reasons are that government pamphlets would not have to be printed in other languages and to ensure that all drivers understood English and could read the road signs to make highways a safer place.

    Representative Scott Perry makes a very bold statement: “This is our country, our culture, our lifestyle and our language. If our language doesn’t suit you, no one forced you to come here and no one is forcing you to stay.” This statement immediately reminded me of Noah Webster’s idea to unite the nation by speaking English. He stated that, “Americans who did not speak English did not belong to the nation.” Webster wanted to create an “American language” that all Americans could understand and identify with. I believe that Representative Scott Perry has the same idea for Pennsylvania. He wants us to be united as one so that everybody can read the same road signs and understand government pamphlets in one distinct language—English.

    According to the article, there are opposing groups stating that, “…[the bills] would make Pennsylvania unfriendly to visitors and tourists and cost the state much money in lost tourist revenue.” Although there will always be pros and cons with such a large political change in our state, we have to consider the outcome—unity.

    Overall, I believe that Representative Scott Perry and Noah Webster share the same view of language. Specifically, they want us to unite as one in order to represent our country, culture, lifestyle, and most importantly, our language. By making English the official language, Pennsylvanians would be able to communicate better with each other, which would agree with Noah Webster’s idea to unite Americans as one.

  2. KT@Pitt says:

    Are accents unacceptable for teachers?


    This past September, Arizona schools had to stop monitoring its teachers for “mispronounced words and poor grammar” in lieu of dealing with a civil lawsuit. Teachers were being monitored because of their accents, which to me is outrageous. While teachers with “a standard English accent” (whatever that may be…) may be beneficial to children who are first learning to speak the English language, it does not mean teachers who have accents are not qualified, skilled, successful teachers. From another point of view, maybe a familiar accent would help a child when learning English, not hinder his or her understanding. Delpit points out that, “diversity of thought, language, and worldview in our classrooms cannot only provide an exciting educational setting, but can also prepare our children for the richness of living in an increasingly diverse national community” (66). Why wouldn’t we want to capitalize on this diversity in the classroom, instead of trying to eliminate it?

    While I understand clarity and comprehension are critical in the classroom, I am not sure these were issues in every case where teachers were being monitored. This article seems to be on the side of the state, and claims teachers were transferred out of classrooms, not fired, but other parts of the article suggest employees felt harassed and criticized because of their accent. This article demonstrates that knowledge of language history and politics is relevant and important for future teachers. We are going to be a part of discussions and debates surrounding language issues in the classroom, and it is beneficial that we will have prior knowledge of these issues to base our opinions on.

  3. mlhuxta says:

    Why Bilinguals Are Smarter


    We’ve previously read material in this course that discussed the benefits of teaching more than one language to students. We’ve also read material by authors who do not agree with teaching any other language but English. The Caldas reading specifically examined just how well bilingual children perform on standardized tests, their ability to switch between the two different languages, and how they progress in a school setting. The New York Times article entitled Why Bilinguals Are Smarter serves as a continuation of the subject discussed by Stephen and Suzanne Caldas.

    Studies are continually showing that bilingual children are better equipped with cognitive abilities such as the ability to solve mental puzzles quicker and with more ease. Bilingual children must also activate both language systems in the brain when speaking or reading. These are some of the key differences between bilingual and monolingual children. A child who speaks two or more languages must be able to switch from one to the other easily and efficiently, and therefore, he or she must be able to “monitor the environment.” This is a great skill to have, especially in the 21st century since our environment is becoming more and more fast-paced and ever changing. If we equip our students with more than one language, we give our students the tools to become more adept at living in our unique society. As educators, our job is to support future generations so that they are able to continue preserving and enhancing humanity. Clearly, this article would have fit perfectly into Week 10 of our course material.

  4. shmannybumbah says:


    The article I chose is from the Huffington Post. It is not a very serious article, but it proves a point about grammar. It shows examples [23 of them] of textbooks who misspell or misuse grammar. Some are humorous—misusing pictures, captions, etc. However, it shows that everyone makes grammar mistakes.

    Number 11 of the slideshow is a great example of a spelling mistake. The math textbook is supposed to read “altitude,” yet it says “altidude.” I honestly don’t know how that was not fixed in the proofreading process of the book. Even as I am typing in Microsoft Word right now, it has a squiggly red underline. This shows us that technology has changed, however. I imagine this is an older textbook; there are too many spell checks and automatic corrections in today’s technology. Or, I could be wrong. This could just be a faulty print. Nevertheless, it is humorous to see in an educational book.

    Another good one is number 12 on the slideshow. I imagine this is in a psychology book, based on the content. They state that the four F’s are “fighting, fleeing, feeding, and mating.” Again, this is probably just an overlooked mistake. This article shows that sometimes, even professionals, make mistakes. Whether they misspell something, misuse a phrase, or have omitted a final proofreading step, they messed up.

    Strangely, with all the abbreviations and misspellings we humorously use on social networks, we still pick up on their flaws. As mentioned in your post, Grassley stated, “Am ppl r not stupid” on Twitter. That is a normal post for social networking. As we discussed, however, people have broadened their audiences whom they write to these days. So, when we find errors in inappropriate places, such as textbooks, it is immediately noted. The worlds of professional writing versus casual talk are very different places; Huffington Post chose to elaborate on this.

  5. Fay Mousse says:

    A Failure to Communicate-Why a foreign accent makes you less credible


    In this this article featured in The New York Times, a study performed by two psychology professors at the University of Chicago examined why many Americans are wary of people who speak with foreign accents. The study suggests that the distrust of those who speak with a foreign accent goes beyond the common “xenophobia” and suggests that when it is difficult to understand someone, we lose confidence in the speaker altogether. According to recent research, both words and pictures that we can process easily tend to be perceived by people as not only more pleasant but also more truthful. Dr. Boaz Keysar and Dr. Shiri Lev-Ari performed a study to figure out if a person’s distrust of non-native speakers stems from prejudice or incomprehension. First, they asked a group of people to judge a few trivial statements, like “a giraffe can go without water longer than a camel can” in different accents-Turkish, Polish, Korean, Italian, and Austrian-German, as well as by native English speakers. Results showed that listeners distrusted non-native speakers more than they did native English speakers. Even after they told the subjects the results and that difficulty in understanding leads people to distrust non-native speakers, the subjects still distrusted the statements from those with heavier accents. “Even awareness was unable to overcome the effect of credibility,” Dr. Boaz said.

    This article and study is closely related to the article we read by Amitabh Pal, “Indian by Day, American by Night.” This study gives credibility as to why it might be important for call centers to train their employees to “de-Indianize” themselves. The NY Times article suggests evidence that if they can successfully sound American they will be trusted, and viewed as credible and truthful by the American people. Even though I personally found the act of people who are actively de-Indianizing themselves and adopting Western names, identities, accents, and cultures absurd, this NY Times article suggests why they are almost being forced to do this.

  6. TwentyThree says:

    Santorum: English Before Statehood
    In March, Rick Santorum made the bold claim that Congress required English to be the official language of a territory before it can attain statehood. He believed that for a territory to become a part of the United States English must be taught and spoken and spoken universally by its citizens. This claim is indeed false and Santorum has received harsh criticism for the statement.
    While campaigning in Puerto Rico Santorum stated, “If Puerto Rico wanted to become a state, residents there needed to speak English.” (Farley) Their official language is currently Spanish. This perspective is very similar to Noah Webster. Webster held the strong belief that English should be the official language of America. He saw this as a way to unite all Americans. I think Santorum made this claim out of ignorance rather than a belief in unity. He made assumptions that turned out to be false.
    Although the requirement of “English to be the principal language and that it be taught and spoken universally in those states” does not exist, Santorum was not completely wrong. He thought that other states had to meet this requirement prior to becoming a part of the United States. In the past enabling acts have been put in place to require territories, like Oklahoma and Hawaii, that required schools and legislative sessions to be conducted in English. Even though Congress is not requiring English to be the official language of these states, it is requiring English to be extremely relevant in their communities. This is a modern day example of Webster’s belief of the necessity of and official language.

  7. lauren16 says:

    Conditions Are Perfect For Bilingual Education – So Why Is It In Decline?
    Stephen Palacios

    In this article from Huffington Post, the author points out that while the benefits of speaking multiple languages are obvious, bilingual education is in decline. It points out two main reasons that bilingual education is not prevalent in our public schools. The first reason outline by the article is that the English language is seen as an identity for Americans. Palacios states “Often, language is seen as a badge of national identity-imagine a Frenchman who doesn’t speak French. While the United States does not have an ‘official’ language, English is seen as a badge of American identity”. The second reason is cost. The article points out that as math and science increase in importance in National education standards, language learning becomes less of an issue and the money just isn’t there. It mentions that President Bush’s “Bilingual Education Act” has expired and the language is no longer a subject matter of importance.

    In class we have talked a lot about bilingual education benefits and also read a column by Phyllis Schlafly about how English should be our official language. While the article is clearly pro-bilingualism, it displays some of Schlafly’s ideas when it speaks about national identity. Schlafly states in her article that “polls have found that more than three-fourths of all Americans believe that English should be the official language of government and anyone who wants to live in this country should learn English”. The article points this attitude out as one of the major reasons there isn’t much bilingual education in public schools. In a way, the article calls out Schlafly as having an attitude that is preventing children from learning something that could benefit their future.

  8. Osprey says:


    In 2011, any Roman Catholic in the primarily English-speaking parts of the world had to go through a change in the way their religious services were held: a new translation of the Mass that is truer to the Latin language from which it originates. Although the new take on the Roman Missal, which is the book of texts and prayers used in the service, seemed to “pass smoothly in churches, despite some confusion and hesitancy over the new words,” (Otterman) a debate had been raging between the Vatican-led church hierarchy and critics, which included hundreds of priests.

    The Vatican believes the new translation is more “reverential and accurate,” (Otterman) but those who criticize the change fear it is going against the commitment of the 1960s Second Vatican Council, which permitted simple speech to be used in the participation of Mass.

    While most Catholics reacted calmly to the switch, since the actual Mass wasn’t changed, just the specifics of the conversion, not everyone adapted to the language so readily. Rev. Anthony Ruff, a scholar at St. John’s University, said, “The syntax is too Latinate – it’s not good English that will help people pray” (Otterman).

    The transition reminds me of Johnson, who had a fondness for antiquity. In this piece of news about the English language, I feel like this adherence to antiquity, history, politics, and religion (an important aspect to nearly every culture) played into the decision to implement a new, more truthful – albeit difficult – translation. The Vatican is trying to rekindle some abandoned linguistic and religious traditions, but is this resurrection interfering with churchgoers’ ability to participate? Coupled with the (ancient) idea of religion, such a translation seems fitting, but how practical is it?

  9. gingersparkle says:


    The article I chose, titled “A Picture of Language” by Kitty Burns Florey, reminded me much of Constance Weaver’s “Grammar and the Teaching of Grammar” both in context and in opinions. “A Picture of Language” traces the history of sentence diagramming to the inventor of it all, S.W. Clark, a school teacher from the 1800’s. Florey explains that sentence diagramming began as actual diagrams of sentences that were drawn to look like bubbles, with each word in the sentence attached to other based off of its part of speech and job in the sentence.
    Florey continues her article with the same opinion as Weaver: that formal grammar and sentence diagramming play no integral role to a student’s ability to master the English language. What interested me, however, was that Florey clearly found interest in sentence diagramming and learning formal grammar, which is where she differed from Weaver.
    Personally, I have always found grammar interesting; I find that knowing grammar rules allows me to look at the language in many different ways. Due to my clear pro-grammar attitude, I disagreed greatly with both Weaver and the majority of our class during the discussions of why formal grammar should no longer be taught in schools. However, Florey showed me that perhaps even those interested in the structure of sentences and the rules behind the ways we speak are not benefiting from learning formal grammar.
    Florey brought to my attention that even though I am interested in grammar, and enjoy discussing, using, and learning it, the grammar rules themselves do not help me with the mastering of English, Spanish, Latin, or any other language. They allow me to think about language in ways that make me interested in it, but they do not make me a better writer or speaker than someone who is interested in math and science. Hearing the same negative opinion about grammar that our class and Weaver had from a pro-grammar voice has really proven to me that learning formal grammar doesn’t do anything but allow us to learn formal grammar: there is no improvement in writing or speaking, and therefore should not necessarily be taught in the classroom.

  10. Sushi says:


    This article, from the Huffington Post, is about a 12-year-old girl from Wisconsin who was reprimanded by her teacher for speaking Menominee in her homeroom classroom. Menominee is a Native American language. The girl, named Miranda, spoke the words “hello,” “I love you,” and “thank you” in Menominee, upon which her teacher “slammed her hands down on the desk” and lectured Miranda for speaking a language that was not understandable to the teacher and her classmates. Miranda was not allowed to participate in a basketball game because of the incident. The teacher issued an apology letter to Miranda and her family, stating, “Language and behavior that creates a possibility of elitism, or simply excludes other students, can create or increase racial and cultural tensions.”

    I find this story to be ridiculous, in that this student was punished for speaking a few words in her Native language. While reading, I was immediately reminded of Ngugi’s piece in which he and his classmates would be punished for speaking their native language (a language other than English) on school grounds. While Miranda was not punished to the extent that Ngugi was for speaking a language that was important to him, it still makes me mad that she was punished at all. This article/story also ties into the English-only education issues that we discussed in class.

  11. Ron Swanson says:


    A half a century. Almost 60,000 words. Ending with ‘zydeco,’ the Dictionary of American Regional English, a lexicographic project started by Frederic G. Cassidy, was completed early this year. Researches across the nation interviewed countless subjects in order to compile this dictionary of regionalisms. Often, they were met with disdain by uncooperative occupants of the region they were studying.
    The dictionary had been published before in multiple volumes, but researches complete the late Cassidy’s project by adding the word ‘zydeco.’ The final volume was published a decade after its predecessor, not due to complexities of individual words, but instead due to the online boom. Researchers had to search through a mass of newly available online sources in order to be sure they were correct in their own definitions and not omitting less common words.
    Researchers insist that, in spite of Webster’s best efforts, American English is not becoming homogenized. If anything, they feel that regional dialects are as strong as ever. Many even believe that regional dialects are becoming more various, and it is what regional speakers are talking about that is changing. The survival of these regional dialects makes sense, as many of the readings on the “Do You Speak American?” PBS site spoke of Americans’ pride in and preservation of their own ways of speaking. The dictionary serves as a way to share the words speakers are so proud of, though their hesitance asks another question — will the DARE serve to homogenize the same regionalism it celebrates?

  12. Tim Tebow says:


    Something that has been a hot button topic for language is how often swearing occurs on television and video games. This article tackles the profanity issue and what effects it can have on young adults. Results from the study have shown that children who played video games and watched television that had abundant swearing were more prone to use it themselves, and also lash out violently toward others. The article explains that children who are exposed to profane language in media think that using this type of language is normal. These aggressive children are also more likely to hit, kick, or punch others. They also will engage in non-aggressive behavior such as gossiping or spreading rumors. These studies also apply to adults. At the end of this article there is a quote from a psychology professor which suggests that profanity can also be good for kids, “The authors make no case for profanity being beneficial, as in humor elicitation, or social bonding, or as a coping mechanism, or as a relief from pain.”

    When reading the end of the article I immediately thought of the Pinker videos and the presentation from last week’s group. I think for most of us, swearing is mostly used in beneficial ways. We get humor or release stress by using it, most of the time anyway. I thought that this was one of the more interesting topics we have covered in class throughout the semester. From reading this article it does seem that parents need to try and control the amount of swearing their children hear when they are young. In the end though, we are never going to be able to completely shelter our children from cursing and need to educate them about the words they are using, just like some of our classmates had experienced when they were young.

  13. MM24 says:


    This article talks about how English is coming to dominate workplaces, big and small, in Paris. The author, N’Kaoua, describes in the article that although English being the “need to know” language is not a new subject, that it is “reaching a whole new level” (N’Kaoua). He describes a multinational organization in, SGS, whose employees only work in English, though they are based in Paris. N’Kaoua also mentions a French energy company, Areva, whose CEO states that even the switchboard operators must speak English. Not only is the usage of English in these workplaces tiresome for French speakers, but it is also stressful. And even further, the Toubon law, a French law enforced in 1994, forces all official Internet documents to be written in French!

    This article reminds me of our discussions about Global English, especially the article “Indian by Day, American by Night”. Both of these articles discuss the difficulty of mastering the English language, and how tiresome it can be in the workplace. I still find it ridiculous that the employees of the call center were forced to take on an identity that wasn’t theirs, and were scolded for having an accent. Though the employees of the companies in France were not forced to learn English to this extent, I can only imagine that trying to complete tasks in two different languages must be exhausting. This article “OH MON DIEU! ENGLISH INVADES FRENCH WORKPLACE” not only reiterates the success of English as becoming a Global language, but also emphasizes the repercussions of its success.

  14. YoungJ says:


    The topic of this article centers on the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the rise of Hispanic students into U.S. schools across the country, not just in urban areas, but suburban areas too. The article looks at the New Jersey state region where a rise in Hispanic students with immigrant parents has spread across its suburban regions as many Hispanic families move away from urban areas such as New York City. This has led to schools needing to increase its bilingual programs, spending extra money for after school programs, and hiring teachers fluent in speaking Spanish despite the many budget cuts effecting districts statewide. The intent of spending for bilingual education is to try to teach English at an accelerated pace so that the Hispanic students, most with poor English speaking skills, do not negatively impact school’s standardized test scores and can try to catch up with the fluent speakers. The article mentions the increasingly known fact related to No Child Left Behind and standardized testing that if the schools do not do well on testing, they will be labeled as failures (Fessenden).

    Chapter 54 of our Language textbook, English Language Learners in School by Suzanne Peregoy and Owen Boyle discusses this challenge No Child Left Behind places on schools as they are constantly trying to keep up with achieving its increasing demands. Peregoy and Boyle discuss the dangers of “high-stakes testing” as it may increase dropout rates among poor, racial, ethnic, or minority students. They also discuss the various kinds of bilingual education programs that may be used such as immersion education, transitional bilingual education, and newcomer programs. As many school districts face the struggle to achieve high-standardized test scores, the article discusses the value of a high achieving school because it essentially determines the property value of the houses within the area of a school. If a school is a high achieving school, then property values will be high because people will want to live there and have their kids attend the neighboring school. However, if a school is not achieving high scores then the opposite occurs, and the rise in the Hispanic population has posed the challenge to many districts of maintaining their high scores, or being able to increase them if they were already low. This issue brings up the issue of the problem Peregoy and Boyle discusse regarding the divisions between the rich and the poor that high-stakes testing unfortunately widens in many communities.

  15. lmwb53013 says:


    Racial Lens Used to Cull Curriculum in Arizona by Michael Winerip

    This article addresses many of the issues we have discussed in class this semester. One of the main ideas is that political issues led to the confiscation of literary materials in the classrooms that are a part of the Mexican-American studies program in Tucson, Arizona. Some individuals, such as the former state education superintendent, Tom Horne, felt that the Mexican-American program was “using antiwhite curriculum to foster social activism” (Winerip 2). Although the program was applauded for closing the achievement gap as well as found in an audit to be “doing a good job” (Winerip 2), controversial textbooks and other materials were confiscated.

    Many of us, some as future teachers, agreed with Delpit that teachers must “celebrate, not merely tolerate diversity in our classrooms” (Delpit 67). We also discussed some ways to bring other types of languages and cultures into the classroom, such as by analyzing raps. It seems to me that this Mexican-American studies program was trying to do just that. The students, especially the featured student Ana Verdugo, found some of the later confiscated literature, such as Matt de la Peña’s “Mexican WhiteBoy,” to be more relatable to their personal experiences. The students seemed to enjoy what they were learning—it obviously helped to improve their performance. Although from this short article I do not know the specific details of the program, I can assume that it was more of a benefit than a detriment to the students. It is discouraging to me that the administrators completely removed the controversial materials, rather than working with the teachers to establish appropriate ways to handle the material in the classroom.

  16. babetheox says:

    http://mashable.com/2012/04/16/blogger-jail-offensive-tweet/ via http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/181874/heres-how-to-get-yourself-thrown-in-jail-for-tweeting/

    This article from Mashable describes how a UK Twitter-user and “amateur reporter” named John Graham Kerlen (“Olly Cromwell”) was convicted last Friday of sending “grossly offensive malicious communications” and “menacing” tweets to Bexley Councillor Melvin Seymour, a locally elected representative of the London borough of Bexley. In the first tweet, he posted a picture of Seymour’s house with the text, ““Which c— lives in a house like this. Answers on a postcard to #bexleycouncil. (ignore my reflection)”. After his arrest last October, he was ordered “not to own, operate or write on a website or social media any criticisms of Bexley Council” and “not to write directly or indirectly about Bexley Councillors on any site.” Kerlen maintains that he was convicted for using the word “cunt” in what he considered to be a “throwaway remark” on Twitter. Kerlen currently faces up to six months in prison and is scheduled for sentencing on May 9th. When asked if he would do it again, he responded, “You bet your fucking arse I would.”

    This article relates extremely well to last week’s topic of profanity in the English language. Kerlen’s remarks would have probably flown under the radar were it not for his use of profanity, which, upon examining his social media/online presence, I’d say characterizes his political writing. Though not mentioned very much in the article, Kerlen is an outspoken critic of the Bexley Council and corruption in the British government. On his website, he uses profanity to achieve a specific rhetorical effect: to incite anger and action in his readers so that they care about the political issues about which he writes.

    In “Always On: Language in an Online and Mobile World”, Naomi Baron talks about “public face” or the image we construct of ourselves to present to the public world. In contemporary culture, she sees a decline in this idea of “public face” as mainstream culture becomes less concerned with “overtly jockeying for social position”. For her, the increase in informal writing conventions caused by online writing, is direct evidence of this decline (164-165). This relates to Kerlen who represents the writing style of youth culture, which Baron sees as the main enactors of public face decline. In the past, written communication with public officials demanded the most formal of writing styles, but today, Kerlen can use outlets like Twitter or his personal blog to address government officials in an informal, profanity-laden style. While Baron might see this as a bad thing, Kerlen is using kairos to innovate a new kind of political discourse. His profane language reflects the way real people speak and communicate and it also taps into the emotional response that profanity engenders in people (Pinker’s videos). While some might consider Kerlen highly disrespectful, others might see him as revolutionizing the way we interact with the government. In a time when the electoral process and government officials are too removed from the thoughts and opinions of the people, Kerlen is bridging this gap in an energetic way.

  17. Supernova says:

    Alejandrina Cabrera, Candidate For City Council In Arizona, Says Removal From Ballot Is Abuse Of Power


    In this article from the Huffington Post, an Arizona city council candidate, Alejandrina Cabrera, was removed from the ballot because of her limited English proficiency. In Arizona they have a law that states that anyone who runs for a city office must be proficient in English. This rule stands even though San Luis is a farming town that hugs the Arizona-Mexico border in which many of its citizens speak a lingua franca of Spanish and English.

    Cabrera says, “I speak English and I read and write. I know my English is not proficient, but I can understand and I can answer. For San Luis, Arizona it is enough.” Cabrera and her lawyers plan on appealing the court’s decision for various reasons.

    Cabrera may be a very intelligent and imaginative, but Arizona laws and courts have taken away her chance to help the people of San Luis. When I read this article I found it very interesting that even though the United States does not have a national language, it goes without saying that you must be proficient in English in order to ‘make it’. This reminds me of Noah Webster and Phyllis Schlafly, who want English to be our national language, and if you cannot speak and understand it, then you should leave.

    While Webster and Schlafly sought to make English our official language, in order to make the nation united, they seem to have forgotten cities like San Luis, Arizona. There the majority of residents do not speak English proficiently and would gain much from having a person like Cabrera on city council. They are citizens of the United States and should not be punished with less than adequate representation just because English is not spoken in their homes.

    I do believe some form of English comprehension should be required in order to hold office, but to what extent that understanding should be, I am undecided. For this case, where most residents speak a mix of Spanish and English, the laws of Arizona may be hampering on Cabrera’s ability to best serve her community.

  18. KateG says:

    Professor of pronunciation help immigrants

    This article in USA Today, notes that a growing number of immigrants are taking English class, and that the cause is that people want to neutralize their accent in order to keep their jobs. In the article they also note the debate about whether or not accents are truly bad by saying, “There sometimes is heated debate whether an accent is an impediment to advancement,” Tapia says. But “if an accent is so strong, their listeners truly cannot understand what they’re saying, then I think accent-reduction is beneficial.” In order to help people, colleges have begun offering courses. Not only do these courses help students, but when they go out and receive jobs because of courses, it also looks good for the college. Although more people are taking advantage of these courses, the article notes that with the growth of other languages, having other accents may be useful to employers in order to better communicate with companies.

    I found the tone in this article quite different from the one we read about the call centers in India. This USA Today article, noted the fact that your accent contributes to a person’s culture, and thus they are only giving people another option in the english classes, but the call centers are much more strict. In India, they specifically teach British and American accents and point to specific changes in the sound of letters. Perhaps in India, this is important because they are on the phone, but for other people, like the USA Today article notes, keeping their accents may be helpful in order to be more relateable to some people.

    In my opinion, unless it is absolutely necessary to change your accent, people should stay true to who they are. As we experienced in class with the activity that my group did, accent neutralization is extremely hard and time consuming.

  19. DrSeuss says:

    Those Gosh-Darn Criminals Can Go to Heck


    In this New York Times article from May 2011, the Oakland Police Department was attempting to improve their relationship with the community and wanted to start by cleaning up their language. Police officers are known to use profanity, especially when it comes to dealing with inmates, but where should they draw the line? Their Chief decided that it was never appropriate and even began to punish his own police officers. One officer was penalized after he was caught cursing under his breath in his own patrol car. Most of the policemen are extremely unhappy with this change because they feel that cursing is necessary in order to appear tough, one even stated, “The last thing I want people to think is that I’m some softie.”

    The power of profanity is certainly prevalent in this article. In Pinker’s video from last week, he discusses how curse words automatically register in your brain whether you realize it or not. I believe that everyone is subconsciously aware of this and they use it to their advantage. Police officers are certainly aware of how curse words can make people feel and even blatantly state that swearing makes them appear tough.

    However, police officers have many jobs within our community. Not only do they have to deal with inmates, but also children and families as well. Knowing when and where to curse certainly seems obvious, but swearing can become a bad habit for most people. I can understand why the head of the police department would want to break them of this habit now so it can further connect them with their community. But this article also demonstrates how socially unacceptable profanity is within the community and the negative connotation that is still associated with it.

  20. muskoka1 says:


    Romney Flip Flops on English as Official Language

    Anna Staver’s article discusses how Mitt Romney’s views on English as the official language of the United States have changed from 2008 to 2012. In 2008, Staver acknowledges that Romney was endorsed by English First Political Victory Fund back in 2007 in which Romney clearly agreed that English should be the official language of America. Staver goes on to say why this is controversial and significant presently because of Romney’s candidacy for the presidency. The article focuses on Romney’s trip to Puerto Rico, which could possibly become the 51st state. During his campaign in the Spanish language dominated commonwealth, Romney declared that he would not impose any prerequisites for English to be the official language. This is a far cry from Romney circa 2008 and earlier.

    Romney’s “flip flop,” as Staver calls it, could be seen as a necessary political maneuver to help win the Republican candidacy (the article was written before Santorum dropped out of the running). Of course, it looks very hypocritical to fully support English as the official language, yet four years later he leaves that position behind in order to gain more delegates from Puerto Rico. There is a definite reason behind his newfound politicking, and it fully encompasses the politics of the English language.

    Romney’s previous belief that English should be the official language of America leads me back to the discussion on global English. If English were to be made our official language what would that do to all the immigrants who live in America and speak English as their second language? What about places such as Puerto Rico where the commonwealth is not totally part of America but could be in the future? If English is forced upon these people, I think it could open the door to English as the global language because of America’s superpower status within the world. Jamaica Kincaid’s article about how she grew up being force-fed English could be an eerie premonition of Puerto Rico’s future. As Kincaid noted in her article, “The reality of my life was conquests, subjugation, humiliation, enforced amnesia” (369). A Puerto Rican child might grow up, read Kincaid’s harsh words, and feel a connection with her if English was to be the official language. It’s a little unnerving to connect previous experiences with possible future ones.

  21. blogposter2012 says:

    Language Test To Become Mandatory for Some Immigrants http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/04/11/sk-immigration-language-1204.html11/

    This article discusses how the federal government is going to have immigrants from Canada are going to have to take a language test to test their ability in either French or English. What is interesting about this test is that it will only be given to immigrants who are applying for low skilled jobs in the United States. The article says that one of the reasons that this test is being required is to prevent a division of isolated immigrant communities. Now doesn’t this situation remind you of the Kincaid article we discussed in class and Webster’s idea of creating a nation and unity through language that Labaree described?

    Kincaid discusses how she was forced to learn a language because her language was perceived as inferior and because learning English was said to be more useful. Labaree described Webster as wanting to create a national character by having everyone speak the same language. These two ideas connect to the even in this article because by forcing only the lower class to take a language tests makes a statement about their language and the amount of power that they have.

    In class we discussed the reasons behind people wanting to have a global language. In this discussion I remember someone bringing up this observation that in America we expect non-native English speakers to cater to us and learn our language. And I think that this new test is definitely an example of it. This new policy is making a statement that having proficiency in English will allow you to easily merge into American job market, culture, and as the article stated to essentially help you succeed. But can knowing a language really be the barrier between successful and non-successful?

  22. BonitaApplebaum says:

    Bilingual is Better


    Philadelphia Inquirer writer, Liza M. Rodriguez, describes the cultural advantages of being bilingual and bicultural and its benefits in our current economic sphere in this article. She draws on research and outside sources to support her claim that there are economic advantages to being bilingual: “A study done by the University of Florida found that fully bilingual Hispanics earn an average of nearly $7,000 more per year than their peers who speak only English”. Phyllis Schafly argued that “the English language [was] the admission ticket to [the American] social, political and economic mainstream. Without it immigrants will be forever relegated to menial jobs”. However, Rodriguez points out that the Center for American Progress says “that immigrants are 30 percent more likely to start a business than are nonimmigrants”.

    Besides the economic benefits of bilingualism, there is something to be said about the value of speaking another language in a cultural sense. Rodriguez draws on her own personal experiences as a bilingual speaker to demonstrate the positive effect it has had on her: “bilingualism helps us tackle and embrace complex challenges […], connect [with] different groups of people, and be flexible in finding solutions to new problems.” Speaking two languages or possibly even more can increase our “cultural capital” by allowing us to navigate cross-cultural experiences.

    The nature of the American society is constantly changing. Our country is becoming increasingly more diverse with an abundance of languages, cultures and heritages being represented. Contrary to Schlafly’s assertion that bilingual education is ineffective, I think it is important that we continue to educate our English and non-English speaking students in other languages. There are obvious economic benefits, but the long term skill of second language proficiency is immeasurable. We learn to become more adaptable and we can build relationships with those who are different from us through language. We may even develop a deeper appreciation and understanding of immigrants who “strengthen the rich social and economic fabric of our society”.

  23. jen-nay. says:

    The History of 7 Bizarre English Words


    When I first found this article, I instantly recognized the author (David Crystal) and thought this would probably have something in it that I could relate to our class. Little did I know, this article happened to touch on almost every topic we have covered in class. He starts off by talking about the history of English, from Old English to Modern English, touching on number two, four, six, and seven from Daniel’s Nine Ideas about Language. He then throws in a little bit of Wolfram’s Standards and Vernaculars (more people speak nonstandard English), Baron’s Always On (“the words we use when we speak aren’t the same as those when we write”), Delpit’s Language Diversity and Learning (“a reflection of the colorful political and cultural history of the English-speaking peoples over the centuries”), and of course Crystal’s own work in Why a Global Language when talking about the “global spread of English”.

    Crystal then goes on to list seven words that represent the history of English in some way that we all can relate to. He starts with the word “fopdoodle,” which Microsoft Word does not even recognize as a real word, and I think this is exactly Crystal’s point. Going back to Daniel’s number six, language change is normal, Crystal mentions several forgotten words from Johnson’s Dictionary that we now have new names for. He also expresses these word changes another way, which I find I great way to put it being a big Doctor Who fan: “If a present-day Dr Who were to travel back to 449 AD… his biggest problem would not be alien monsters, but getting the Anglo-Saxons to understand his alien words.”

  24. tcs32 says:


    In this article, the news story being discussed is about the expulsion of a high school senior due to use of profane language on his Twitter account. The school administration claimed that the boy had “tweeted” the message from a school computer, which was why they took the measures that they did.

    I think that this article touches upon a few issues that we have been recently discussing in class about profanity. Steven Pinker mentioned that swearing could be used as a tool to force a listener to think unpleasant thoughts, or to evoke negative emotions. It seems that this could have been what the profanity evoked in this case, as the article mentioned that some other students were offended by the statement.

    Additionally, some of us have discussed that we think it is okay for profanity to be used in schools when the students are old enough. This age limit, it seemed, for most of us, was high school. I found it interesting that such drastic measures were taken in this news story with response to profanity, when most of us deemed profanity in school appropriate. However, we were mostly talking about whether it was alright for teachers to use profanity. I wonder if the same drastic measures would have been taken if, in this situation, it had been a teacher who had “tweeted” curse words, rather than a student.

  25. jay_leu says:

    “Prince Royce’s ‘Phase II’: Mixing and matching to expand bachata sound”
    By Sarah Godfrey


    This article revolves around Prince Royce, an artist specializing in bachata music. Bachata is a genre of music that originated in the Dominican Republic during the early parts of the 20th century, and has recently gained recognition throughout the whole world. It has traditionally been characterized as romantic music, dealing with themes such as deception and lost love. In past phases, bachata music has been closely associated with that of salsa, bolero, and even merengue. However, since its establishment in the US, Bachata has been heavily influenced by American concepts, such as rhythm, blues, and hip-hop.

    Bachata artist and U.S. citizen, Prince Royce, has managed to add his own spin on the music genre. He did this by creating bilingual covers of popular U.S. songs. For example, in the past he has intertwined Usher’s “Yeah!” and Jay-Z/Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind” with his own Spanish rendition of Fabolous’ “It’s My Time.” By employing more than one language within his music, Prince Royce has managed to gain a multinational, multigenerational fan base, which includes everything from teenage girls to current MLB players.

    I chose this article because I felt that it had a special connection with the concept of bilingualism/bilingual education, which we previously discussed in class. While discussing, we examined works by those advocating for as well as those advocating against bilingual education. Phyllis Schlafly’s takes a bold stance in her article, ‘English Should Be Our Official Language’ as she states, “Of course, English should be our official language. The language of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution is fundamental to our national identity. Without it, we will cease to be one nation.” However, I think that Prince Royce does a good job in proving Schlafly wrong. In my opinion instead of causing our nation to split, he causes the people to unite. He could have chosen to record music only in Spanish, therefore, singling the English speakers out (and vice versa). However, he included everyone, which I find very commendable.

  26. darkknight5 says:

    “I h8 txt msgs: How texting is wrecking our language”
    By: John Humphrys

    This article, in my opinion, ties into what we spent part of our semester discussing, ‘txt-talk.’ Not only does this article take a very old fashioned approach on the English language and how it is used in society today, but it also rips apart the way the younger generation has drastically changed the English language. John Humphrys mentions how how txters are “raping our vocabulary,” through our emoticons, abbreviations, and spelling changes (mostly dropping hyphens in words). He discusses how even the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) has fallen into the ‘txt-talk’ trap and how this language change must be halted before it gets too bad.

    As we discussed in class, no one actually uses many of the abbreviations that are thought to be used, and thus the English language is right off the bat not as negatively affected as many people think it is. Also, I do not believe that this change is “negative” at all, it is just a result of the technology change that can be seen in the United States, where everything is based on how quick it can be done. But John Humphrys is still having none of that; he doesn’t see a line between sending out quick txts or emails and formal writing, he believes that one will affect the other and vice verse. As we have seen in some of our readings, the writing we use on facebook, twitter, and through txting is not prevelant nor comparable to the writing we use to email our colleagues/professors, and the writing that we use to write formal documents and papers.

    John Humphrys’ article seems way too opinion based, with very little information in it. Many of the points that he makes are invalid with not resources to back them up. He seems angered, but for no apparent reason. As we have seen there is no negative affect on formal writing because of ‘txt-talk’ but I guess Humphrys is not aware of this data. Articles such as this one attempt to influence the views of others, but they should not have the power to do so, because they are false and only opinion based (usually from the older generations). To Mr. John Humphrys all I can say is LOL, my writing is fine.

  27. sami says:

    Teachers Texting Students: Should Schools Ban Or Encourage?

    This article does not address language directly, but rather the way students and teachers communicate. The basis of the article is whether or not teachers should use text messaging to communicate with their students. The fear is that in this unregulated medium teachers and students could engage in inappropriate exchanges that they would not if it were in class, or in a monitored server.
    I think this is a article that could extend to our discussion on technology and language change. This new form of student to teacher communication is the kind of de-formalizing that Naomi Baron discusses. While I think the class as a whole generally agreed that they know how to address different speakers even in new ways such as email, the fear in the article that texting will blur lines and declares that student teacher communication needs to be monitored.
    While this was not an idea we directly discussed in class it still holds value to extend what we learned. If you extend the idea of Kiros to student teacher texting you could conclude that students would treat the new form of communication with as much respect as they do face-to-face or email. There is also the convience that so many people today have cellphones, and are comfortable using them. It could make asking a teacher for help on your math homework more comfortable without loosing the formality that you are talking to a teacher. It is clearly a valuable tool that comes with some skepticism but i think overall the benefits could outweigh the potential problems.

  28. jvdub says:

    “TV Decency Is a Puzzler for Justices”

    The debate about profanity on broadcast television continued in the case of Federal Communications Commission vs. Fox Television Station in January of 2012. In 1978, the FCC set certain guidelines for broadcast tv and radio stations to follow regarding cursing and nudity from the hours of 6 AM to 10 PM. However, these guidelines are quite blurry. The article states, “Nudity in “Schindler’s List,” another Spielberg movie, was allowed, but a few seconds of partial nudity in “NYPD Blue” was not.” The FCC is not making it clear to networks what counts as being too vulgar or too profane. What is really being questioned in this case is the First Amendment-societies right for freedom of speech.

    This case connects perfectly with the Steven Pinker video we had to watch for class. Part one of this video starts out by discussing the FCC’s reaction to Bono, from U2, accepting an award and saying it was ‘fucking brilliant’. The word’ fucking’ was not bleeped out by the NBC network. The FCC ruled this action appropriate because it was used as an adjective and not in an offensive way. Situations like this make it easy for me to see why networks, such as Fox and ABC, are confused by the vague guidelines set by the commission. The FCC is being very contradictive by saying some things are acceptable in situations, while others are not.

    I think one important factor that was also mentioned briefly in the article is technology. People can now restrict what their children can see and access on their televisions. So if the networks were allowed to swear and show nudity, it would be easy to keep children from viewing it. Also, I doubt most networks, excluding Comedy Central and a select others, would abuse this privilege of freedom if it was given to them. Sometimes profanity and nudity are used to prove a point or to make something seem more real.

    Overall I think that if the FCC guidelines are going to stay in place they need to be revamped. They need to specifically enclose what is obscene and what is adequate, or even tolerable.

  29. Numeroff says:

    It’s Politics: Dual-Language immersion program


    The article discusses two very important issues which we have discussed in class. One of these issues is bilingual education and the other issue is an adult’s ability to learn a language at an older age. The article suggests that Political Pig Latin should be taught in schools to young children because they are most susceptible to learning a new language (Daniels 4). The goal for teaching young children this language is so that when they are older, they will be able to better understand the political debates that go on around them. Since adults have more difficulty learning a new language (which the article suggest this politics lingo should be considered) the author recommends that a dual language system be used to help young children learn the language instead.
    The author argues that “plenty within the San Gabriel Valley have adopted dual-language immersion programs.” However, as many of us know from our discussion in class and our readings on bilingual education, it is a very controversial issue. Simply saying that because some schools have accepted and implemented the dual-language idea does not mean others will as well. The idea of dual-language learning is slightly different from bilingual learning, because it requires the teacher to spend half of his or her time teaching one language and half teaching another language. Yet, despite the slight difference between the two forms of language learning, they are both still very frequently debated topics and will most likely continue to be for a while. I have my doubts that a new dual language program for Political Pig Latin will become accepted anytime soon, even if other bilingual and dual language programs do.

  30. csmith292 says:

    Moving to U.S. and Amassing a Fortune, No English Needed

    Featured in the New York Times, this is an article about the success stories of two non-English speaking people who built up booming businesses from the ground within the United States. Felix Sanchez turned a business selling tortillas on the street into a $19 million food manufacturing empire And although his situation is certainly unusual, this story proves that success in America is not determined by how well an immigrant speaks English. No, Mr. Sanchez did not come to this country a wealthy man; in fact, he arrived in the United states with absolutely nothing and on top of that, he spoke little or no English. No doubt he is a clever man; however, the aid of modern technology definitely made it easier for him to gain considerable wealth.

    Mr. Sanchez’s story is not entirely unique either: “in the United States in 2010, 4.5 million income-earning adults who were heads of households spoke English ‘not well’ or ‘not at all,’ according to the Census Bureau. Of those, about 35,500 had household incomes of more than $200,000 a year.”

    Stories like these show that there are always exceptions to the radical ideas like that of Representative Scott Perry’s regarding making English the official language of the United States⎯along with arguments stating that common language is essential for the country’s cohesion and for immigrant assimilation and success. Time and time again we have discussed this issue in class and have come up with considerable reasons for why a common language would be beneficial. This article argues for the reverse side of this⎯that one doesn’t have to speak English in the US if he is to become successful.

  31. ALS178 says:

    Cal-a-for-nia or Cal-ee-for-nia?


    The article I chose from Fox News focuses on governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s accent in the political limelight. Gray Davis, who hoped to take Schwarzenegger’s spot, made an inappropriate remark about his accent saying that “you shouldn’t be governor unless you can pronounce the name of the state.” Schwarzenegger was astonished by Davis’s remark and it shows that even political figures unfortunately judge others by their dialect. In class we focused on the article on language diversity by Delpit and how everyone has their own unique way of speaking and writing. Austrian-born actor and governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been known for his unique accent. We have all repeated his famous line “I’ll be back” at least once in his unique accent. But now since he is a political figure, is his accent acceptable or a just a joke? According to Davis it is a joke and he should not be governor of California because of the way he pronounces the states’ name. But what Davis doesn’t think of, is all the citizens in California who may pronounce California the same way as their current governor. Some may argue that Schwarzenegger got his role as governor through a popularity vote but that doesn’t mean that his accent will make him less of a political figure. I recognized that I pronounce California as Cal-ee-for-nia, the same way as Arnold Schwarzenegger. Schwarzenegger was continually bashed by Davis throughout the campaign about his accent and accused that his accent hinders his governing abilities. In Delpit’s article, we read about how a certain child who spoke in their native dialect while entering class, and the teacher drilled the student every day to answer the way she wanted the student too. Does this go the same for the California governor? The entire time he is governor, will he be continuously bashed and drilled on his pronunciation of the states’ name? And what example is Davis going to send children who immigrate to the California state and pronounce it the way Schwarzenegger does? I disagree with Davis on his remarks and actions against the current California governor. There is no way that Schwarzenegger’s accent will hinder him from doing his job as governor.