Date: Sun, 14 Apr 1996 14:07:14 -0400


Subject: Re: Request for help on divergency

Dear Prof. Allan, I am a doctoral student at Nova Southeastern University at

Ft. Lauderdale and also an elementary school teacher. What sources can you

lead me to that say that slang and divergent writing styles among elementary

school children is a good thing? How do you feel. Any brief comments would

be appreciated. Thanks. P.S. You can also contact me at


i'm no expert on this, but my mother's a first grade teacher (in the

u.s.), so i hear a bit about the controversies about readin', writin'

and prescriptivism. it seems to me that the position that slang or

dialectal style would be good (or at least not bad) in elementary

school writing seems consistent with the "whole language" program of

reading/writing teaching, which is focussed on getting kids to

produce original stories in writing from the earliest stages of their

reading. thus, the stories (i got to read a lot of them over

christmas--70% are about the power rangers--ag!) are full of

orthographic, grammatical, and lexical weirdnesses, and these are

neither corrected nor discouraged. some of the non-standard lexical

stuff could be considered slang and some onomatopoeia.

i think the point is to get kids to be expressive in written

language, and the method is to not make them nervous about making

mistakes, so to welcome any style of language they choose. i know

there's a huge literature on "whole language" and i know that it

originated in new zealand, but that's all i can give in the way of

references. hope it's of some help.

lynne murphy