A professor of Medieval Literature at the City University of New York (CUNY) suggested that that professors shouldn’t correct students that use slang, non-words, or guttural grunts to express themselves. He argued that correcting any of these, is an act of “linguistic racism.”
The Professor, A. W. Strouse, argued that students, “do not need educators to perpetuate that injustice by promoting dubious [grammatical and speech] standards.” And, that rather all teaching professionals, “need to equip themselves with a knowledge of historical linguistics so that they can battle against linguistic racism”
“It is racist to discriminate against someone on the basis that they speak African American Vernacular English [Ebonics],” he explained. Strouse hopes that his active,” celebration of linguistic diversity might be one small way to dismantle that linguistic racism.”
A.W. Strouse, a teacher at CUNY, penned a piece for the Inside Higher Ed, where he charged that “in privileging certain forms of speech over others, we denigrate the possibility of thinking outside our own norms.” In simpler terms, Strouse argued that African American slangs should be fully accepted as a legitimate and taught form of the English language.
“Already, scholars of rhetoric believe, as the consensus view, that instructors should not try to change their students’ speech patterns,” argued Strouse. “In the classroom, students shut down in the face of pedantry because they hate when bossy teachers tell them how to talk, especially in cases in which bourgeois white teachers dictate ex cathedra about what speech is ‘correct,” he continued.
And added, “linguists know that notions of ‘proper’ speech have nothing to do with ‘mastery’ and everything to do with how certain in-groups dictate propriety,” he then went on to point out that “much queer, feminist, and anti-racist scholarship has given voice to marginalized communities—precisely because, without those voices, mainstream academia does not possess a vocabulary for understanding diverse social realities.”
Strouse recalled an example of his refusal to teach proper grammar, “For example, when my student Xuechen referred to a medieval poem as a ‘bromance,’ I asked my class to use this word in their essays about the poem”.
During a recent interview Strouse also encouraged working people to break the linguistic chains of oppression, saying, “People need to tell their bosses, ‘F*** you.’”
“Privileging of Standard English contributes to political dysfunction.” He bemoaned, “The movers-and-shakers are trapped in their well-educated bubble and cannot communicate with the folks who, as workers, are actually in the best position to understand how the world works.” He stressed the idea that people shouldn’t be made conscious of the kind of language they use at their workplace, “The workplace has way too much power and should not be allowed to determine something as fundamental as how we speak,” he argued. “People need to tell their bosses, ‘F*** you.’”
The communistic linguistics professor concluded, “as far as I am concerned, it is beneath my dignity as a scholar and poet to behave as some tedious enforcer of bourgeois civility.”
So, is he just lazy?