Subject: ADS-L Digest - 31 Jan 1997 to 1 Feb 1997 ontent-Length: 5134 There are 4 messages totalling 124 lines in this issue. Topics of the day: 1. BEV-speaking children and reading 2. new orleans the big easy 3. apologies 4. two new pages ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Sat, 1 Feb 1997 13:51:48 +0900 From: Daniel Long Subject: BEV-speaking children and reading Beverly Flanigan wrote: > On a related topic: Someone on another list (CHILDES) was surprised and > dismayed to hear Labov say (on NPR) that BEV-speaking children might > have more difficulty than SAE speakers in learning to read and write. I can see how this would be disturbing to non-linguists, but I think we, as professional lingallers, should consider the following. (a) IF Labov made such a statement (and the contents of the related paper on his website indicate that the focus of his remarks may have been misinterpreted), he was (we would assume, knowing his work) basing his statements on years of empirical work. Obviously, any of us (placed in that kind of situation) would need to careful about what we said, but how it might be (mis)interpreted. (b) That being said, I only think it perfectly logical (linguistically) that the differences in a child's native dialect and the spoken standard being used to explain the writing system can cause problems in learning to read and write. I have a very vivid and specific memory of being taught to write by the phonics methods in the first grade (West Tennessee, 1969-70). My teacher showed a picture of a woman with a big hoop skirt behind her. The ribbon on the front of the dress made a "w" and the skirt in back an "h". Our teacher explained that this was the sound that words like "which" started with. Not to be confused with words like "witch". Well, maybe she understood and produced these sounds distinctively, but I was LOST; I didn't make the distinction when I spoke, and I certainly couldn't "hear" the distinction she was trying to describe. Of course, there are lots of spelling pecularities, silent letters, etc. in English spelling, but that's precisely the point. These were explained to us as "exceptions"; the "wh" was (whuz?) not. It seems that the more of these differences there were between the standard language and the native dialect of the child, the harder learning the spelling rules would be. Danny Long (who as a result of this trama still cain't spell werth a damm) (Dr.) Daniel Long, Associate Professor Japanese Language Research Center Osaka Shoin Women's College 4-2-26 Hishiyanishi Higashi-Osaka-shi, Osaka Japan 577 tel and fax +81-6-729-1831 email dlong[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]