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ERIC Number: ED157055
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1977
Pages: 10
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Frederick Douglass and Colloquial American Prose Style: A Study in Language Proficiency and Cultural Dominance.
Piper, Henry Dan
From colonial days onward, colloquial speech was looked down on as inappropriate for serious writing, but with the publication of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," American colloquial style was raised to the level of high art. English teachers should encourage students to build on their own colloquial speech in their writing, rather than to abandon it in favor of a difficult literary language; the prose style of Frederick Douglass provides evidence to support this conclusion. Parallel passages from the 1845 and 1892 versions of Douglass's account of his life as a slave may be compared to show how Douglass rejected his early direct colloquial style in favor of an inflated literary style. Measures of the number of words per sentence and the number of polysyllabic words per sentence show that Douglass's later writing was similar to the inflated prose of such authors as William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, and James Russell Lowell, and that his earlier writing was similar to the readable, colloquial prose of such self-taught authors as Ben Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, and Mark Twain. English teachers should incorporate the experience and practice of these latter authors into the teaching of English composition. (GW)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: N/A
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A