ERIC Number: ED191319
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1980-Mar
Reference Count: 0
The Role of Stylistic Choices in Language Change.
Wolfe, Susan J.
The variation seen as deviation among the nonstandard styles of English does not represent a decay of the language, but rather, is necessary for simplification and other changes of English structure. The modern-day English pronominal system resulted from the incorporation of Scandinavian forms in the North and East Midland dialects of Middle English (ME). These were needed to disambiguate phonologically similar third person ME pronouns. As these new forms spread southward, they existed in variation with the older forms until they eventually replaced them. Thus, the presence of choices led to changes in the permanent system. Variation also accounted for the reduction of the redundant case system and of multiple negation. Today, the style of English that students are taught via prescriptive grammar differs from their informal oral style. While women most often control the standard, men adopt "ungrammatical" style as a sign of masculinity, and will lead the way in the changes this variation will effect. Some changes predicted are: (1) the disappearance of the pseudo-subjunctive in if-clauses, (2) the extension of the use of "that" to include nonrestrictive relative clauses, and (3) the use of the objective in subjective complements, producing "It is me." (PJM)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Language Shift
Note: This paper was presented at the Conference on College Composition and Communication (Washington, DC, March 13-15, 1980).