John McWhorter Famous Quotes & Sayings

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46 John McWhorter Famous Sayings, Quotes and Quotation.

John McWhorter Sayings: In the nineteenth century, poetry was a bestselling genre rather than the cultish phenomenon it In the nineteenth century, poetry was a bestselling genre rather than the cultish phenomenon it is now.
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John McWhorter Sayings: Most languages spoken by a few thousand people are so complicated they make your head Most languages spoken by a few thousand people are so complicated they make your head swim; a Siberian yak herder's language is much more complicated than a Manhattan bond trader's.
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John McWhorter Sayings: Most of the languages that now exist are almost certain to become extinct within this Most of the languages that now exist are almost certain to become extinct within this century.
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John McWhorter Sayings: Every third person in the world is a drama queen. And crying 'victim,' especially when Every third person in the world is a drama queen. And crying 'victim,' especially when you're not really a victim in any real way, feels good. It feels good to cry victim if you're not one.
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John McWhorter Sayings: 'LOL' is one of several texting expressions that convey nuance in a system where you 'LOL' is one of several texting expressions that convey nuance in a system where you don't have the voice and face to do it the way you normally would.
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John McWhorter Sayings: People have been warning us that language was going to the dogs ever since Latin People have been warning us that language was going to the dogs ever since Latin started turning into French. Yet the dogs in question never seem to emerge yelping on the horizon.
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John McWhorter Sayings: People banging away on their smartphones are fluently using a code separate from the one People banging away on their smartphones are fluently using a code separate from the one they use in actual writing, but a code it is, to which linguists are currently devoting articles.
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John McWhorter Sayings: Black English is simpler than standard English in some ways; for example, it often gets Black English is simpler than standard English in some ways; for example, it often gets by with just 'be' and drops 'am,' 'is,' and 'are.' That's because black English arose when adult African slaves learned the language.
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John McWhorter Sayings: Polish has developed unimpeded; someone put their foot out and tripped English. The human grammar Polish has developed unimpeded; someone put their foot out and tripped English. The human grammar is a fecund weed, like grass. Languages like English, Persian, and Mandarin Chinese are mowed lawns, indicative of an interruption in natural proliferation.
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John McWhorter Sayings: As a linguist, I see the arbitrariness of strictures editors force on me as a As a linguist, I see the arbitrariness of strictures editors force on me as a writer.
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John McWhorter Sayings: People think of black English as ungrammatical, but it bears the same relationship to standard People think of black English as ungrammatical, but it bears the same relationship to standard English as contemporary Hebrew does to ancient Hebrew.
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John McWhorter Sayings: The contribution of West African languages to Ebonics is absolutely infinitesimal. What it actually is The contribution of West African languages to Ebonics is absolutely infinitesimal. What it actually is is a very interesting hybrid of regional dialects of Great Britain that slaves in America were exposed to because they often worked alongside the indentured servants who spoke those dialects that we often learn about in school.
John McWhorter Sayings: Language overlaps with culture but is not subsumed by it Language overlaps with culture but is not subsumed by it
John McWhorter Sayings: Poetry that tames language into tight structures and yet manages to move us comes off Poetry that tames language into tight structures and yet manages to move us comes off as a feat, paralleling ballet or athletic talent in harnessing craft to beauty. When poetry is based on a less rigorous, more impressionistic definition of craft, its appeal depends more on whether one happens to be individually constituted to "get it" for various reasons. The audience narrows: poetry becomes more like tai chi than baseball.
John McWhorter Sayings: the eight main "dialects" of Chinese are so vastly different that they are, under any the eight main "dialects" of Chinese are so vastly different that they are, under any analysis, separate languages. The
John McWhorter Sayings: Loving your language means a command of its vocabulary beyond the level of the everyday. Loving your language means a command of its vocabulary beyond the level of the everyday.
John McWhorter Sayings: Black English is something which - it's a natural system in itself. And even though Black English is something which - it's a natural system in itself. And even though it is a dialect of English, it can be very difficult for people who don't speak it, or who haven't been raised in it, to understand when it's running by quickly, spoken in particular by young men colloquially to each other. So that really is an issue.
John McWhorter Sayings: As far as I'm concerned, and this is a big theme of mine, I'm not As far as I'm concerned, and this is a big theme of mine, I'm not interested in white people loving me. It's an unrealistic expectation. Black people don't love anybody but themselves.
John McWhorter Sayings: For all but the sliver of poetry fans, over the past forty years popular song For all but the sliver of poetry fans, over the past forty years popular song lyrics have been the nation's poetry.
John McWhorter Sayings: Latin illa became, with some erosion of sounds into la, the definite article Latin illa became, with some erosion of sounds into la, the definite article
John McWhorter Sayings: Linguists traditionally observe that esteemed writers have been using they as a gender-neutral pronoun for Linguists traditionally observe that esteemed writers have been using they as a gender-neutral pronoun for almost a thousand years. As far back as the 1400s, in the Sir Amadace story, one finds the likes of Iche mon in thayre degree ("Each man in their degree").
John McWhorter Sayings: English, however, is kinky. It has a predilection for dressing up like Welsh on lonely English, however, is kinky. It has a predilection for dressing up like Welsh on lonely nights.
John McWhorter Sayings: I am not 'African American' - I am black American. I am not 'African American' - I am black American.
John McWhorter Sayings: Texting is fingered speech. Now we can write the way we talk. Texting is fingered speech. Now we can write the way we talk.
John McWhorter Sayings: A person you excuse from any genuine challenge is a person you do not truly A person you excuse from any genuine challenge is a person you do not truly respect.
John McWhorter Sayings: The only way that residual racist feelings could affect legislation, in my opinion, is through The only way that residual racist feelings could affect legislation, in my opinion, is through a lack of priorities, from not doing things.
John McWhorter Sayings: As languages go, English is pretty user friendly. If you look at a tiny language As languages go, English is pretty user friendly. If you look at a tiny language spoken somewhere that most of us have never heard of, chances are it's going to be so complicated that you have a hard time imagining how people can walk around speaking it without having a stroke.
John McWhorter Sayings: [I] would argue that native-born blacks are so vastly less "African" than actual Africans that [I] would argue that native-born blacks are so vastly less "African" than actual Africans that calling ourselves 'African American' is not only illogical but almost disrespectful to African immigrants. Here are people who were born in Africa, speak African languages, eat African food, dance in African ways, remember African stories, and will spiritually always be a part of Africa -and we stand up and insist that we, too, are 'African' because Jesse Jackson said so?
John McWhorter Sayings: This was the beginning of a lifelong obsession with foreign languages. This was the beginning of a lifelong obsession with foreign languages.
John McWhorter Sayings: Don't tell the Scandinavians I said this, but "Swedish," "Norwegian," and "Danish" are all really Don't tell the Scandinavians I said this, but "Swedish," "Norwegian," and "Danish" are all really one "language,
John McWhorter Sayings: Rap and spoken word have reawakened the country to poetry in itself. Texting and Twitter Rap and spoken word have reawakened the country to poetry in itself. Texting and Twitter encourage creative uses of casual language, in ways I have celebrated widely. But we've fallen behind on savoring the formal layer of our language.
John McWhorter Sayings: Our sense of what American English is has upended our relationship to articulateness, our approach Our sense of what American English is has upended our relationship to articulateness, our approach to writing, and how (and whether) we impart it to the young, our interest in poetry, and our conception of what it is, and even our response to music and how we judge it.
John McWhorter Sayings: Texting is very loose in its structure. No one thinks about capital letters or punctuation Texting is very loose in its structure. No one thinks about capital letters or punctuation when one texts, but then again, do you think about those things when you talk?
John McWhorter Sayings: Prescriptive grammar has spread linguistic insecurity like a plague among English speakers for centuries, numbs Prescriptive grammar has spread linguistic insecurity like a plague among English speakers for centuries, numbs us to the aesthetic richness of non-standard speech, and distracts us from attending to genuine issues of linguistic style in writing.
John McWhorter Sayings: The late twentieth century has been the locus of a new lurch on English's time The late twentieth century has been the locus of a new lurch on English's time line in America, where oratorical, poetic, and compositional craft of a rigorously exacting nature has been cast to the margins of the culture.
John McWhorter Sayings: Ebonics - or black English, as I prefer to call it - is one of Ebonics - or black English, as I prefer to call it - is one of a great many dialects of English. And so English comes in a great many varieties, and black English is one of them.
John McWhorter Sayings: If you want to learn about how humans differ, study cultures. However, if you want If you want to learn about how humans differ, study cultures. However, if you want insight as to what makes all humans worldwide the same, beyond genetics, there are few better places to start than how language works.
John McWhorter Sayings: The war on drugs is what makes thugs. The war on drugs is what makes thugs.
John McWhorter Sayings: (I must note that the copy editor for this book, upon reading this section, actually (I must note that the copy editor for this book, upon reading this section, actually allowed me to use singular they throughout the book. Here's to them in awed gratitude!)
John McWhorter Sayings: We're all Dennis Hopper now. We're all Dennis Hopper now.
John McWhorter Sayings: Racism is not dead. Definitely, there are these biases. Racism is not dead. Definitely, there are these biases.
John McWhorter Sayings: The difference between educated people and uneducated people is that educated people have been opened The difference between educated people and uneducated people is that educated people have been opened up to the notion that you can disagree without fighting; whereas uneducated people, in conversation, seek to always agree
everybody agrees and agrees and that's considered basic social libation.
John McWhorter Sayings: In an ideal world, the time English speakers devote to steeling themselves against, and complaining In an ideal world, the time English speakers devote to steeling themselves against, and complaining about, things like Billy and me, singular they, and impact as a verb would be better spent attending to genuine matters of graceful oral and written expression.
John McWhorter Sayings: It would be good if teachers could genuinely understand that black English is not mistakes, It would be good if teachers could genuinely understand that black English is not mistakes, it's just different English, and that what you want to do is add an additional dialect to black students' repertoire rather than teaching them out of what's thought of as a bad habit, like sloppy posture or chewing with your mouth open.
John McWhorter Sayings: We must neither behave as children by resisting honesty, nor allow ourselves to be treated We must neither behave as children by resisting honesty, nor allow ourselves to be treated as children by having honesty withheld.
John McWhorter Sayings: People's sense of how they talk tends to differ from the reality. People's sense of how they talk tends to differ from the reality.