Spreading the Word (Paperback)
Language and Dialect in America
Heinemann Educational Books, 9780325001982, 96pp.
Publication Date: January 14, 2000
With a general focus on classroom applications, McWhorter makes accessible to teachers, teacher educators, and administrators basic language principles that are commonly accepted by linguists, but rarely disseminated to a general audience. Using data from several different languages, McWhorter shows that the speech differences we hear in America are qualitatively equivalent to those heard in other parts of the world where the same differences are not considered "bad language." He links his thesis not only to "prescriptive grammar," but to more immediate issues facing classroom teachers, such as Black English and code switching between Spanish and English. A complete chapter is dedicated to showing how mixture between languages is a worldwide and natural phenomenon, rather than a language-ravaging "accident."
Spreading the Word closes with a brief overview of eight of the most spoken languages in this country that are least like English. In doing so, McWhorter helps us come to view the language palette that exists in our classrooms as an asset not a problem. Most of all, he reinforces our best instincts about accepting and celebrating our students' language, while giving us solid grounds for doing so.