Date: Mon, 24 Nov 1997 08:44:52 CST From: Ellen Johnson Subject: Re[2]: vernacular Yes, Ron has indeed gone on about our inconsistencies in discussing "the vernacular" for some time and he is my main (positive) inspiration. But I wonder: if no one will listen to this distinguished old-timer, why will they care what I say?? Ah, well, I'll continue on nevertheless. The negative motivation was my shock at hearing Labov say on the radio that only poor, inner-city blacks *really* speak AAVE, that anyone who has learned to code-switch can never go back to speaking the vernacular in a way that is grammatically consistent. I shouldn't have been shocked; it is the logical extension of his idea that people who have been exposed to more dialects will mix them. It makes sense on one level (and he does have the quantitative evidence), but it bothers me on another. Like Orton's Survey of English Dialects where only the most provincial "folk" speakers were interviewed for the same reason: to obtain the "purest", uncontaminated nonstandard varieties. I guess my problem with this is twofold. 1) it shows that we are still firmly entrenched in structuralism, looking for behavior that we can write neat rules for and 2)it leads us to focus on speech that is not really the common, everyday speech for most people in our society, what I thought "vernacular" was supposed to mean. Or do I have too much of a middle-class bias here? Thank you all for your input. Terry is always refreshingly oppositional to the party line. Dennis and Sali have been a big help to me in the past and continue to give me new things to think about. Ellen ellen.johnson[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]