Language Communities

Essay by kaywillisHigh School, 12th gradeB, October 2014

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Willis 1

​​​Kayleigh Willis

English 101


Essay 1

In Richard Lederer's article "All American Dialects", he states the ironic truth that "most of us are aware that large numbers of people in the U.S. speak very differently than we do." (152) How is it that one language can have so many speech communities? It is because of the way our nation was developed. Our language is a mixture of culture and lifestyle that has diverted our English dialect, so that each region's speech is unique. How I speak can define who I am, determine what I do, and locate exactly where I'm from in the U.S. This is the value of my, and my language's speech communities.

If one was to travel to Germany they would be constantly hearing German. What they wouldn't notice is that each city within Germany tends to have their own "version" of the German language.

The same concept applies to the English language here in America. Although we all understand the standard English language, our country is broken up into several speech communities; each consisting of a region's "own version". Every speech community holds its own terminology, slang, pronunciation, accent, and view of correct grammar. Edward Finegan, author of "Correct American: State of American" says this uniqueness explains why the English language has maintained its "richness and flexibility".

When I had first moved to Lewis County in Northern New York, I noticed on many occasion people say "them" as opposed to "those". For example, I would constantly hear someone say "Grab them boots over there." or "How do them things work?" It was so strange to me because growing up in a variety of different regions and speech communities, I had never heard "them" used in such phrases. It was wrong to me.