Importance Of Standard American English

1276 Words 5 Pages
Standard American English
In understanding the importance of language, one must understand the language they speak. In my case, the language is English – Standard American English to be exact. Where I live, English is the native tongue (for most), and no matter where you are, you are always being judged on how well you speak it. If you speak too proper, then you aren’t considered “black” enough, yet if you slaughter the language, then you are just showing your ethnicity.
When I go home for the holidays, I tend to have this problem. Knowing that I am an English major, when I speak to people, I like to put my best foot forward. I do this for two reasons: the first being that I like for people to understand what I mean when I am speaking to them;
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For the most part, the majority of the people from my neighborhood did not attend college or even complete high school in some instances. When they see me and want to have a conversation to catch up because it’s been a while, I have a problem with whether or not I should compromise my education. On one hand, I want to speak slang rather than Standard English because I know I wouldn’t have to stop and explain words, thus allowing the conversation to run smoothly. On the other hand, I would like to speak the way I have learned to speak so that they see I am no longer a product of my environment. This is not to say that the people of my neighborhood do not understand Standard American English; I just do not want to make the conversation too difficult. It has been bought to my attention on several occasions that I seemed to talk over their heads. I have also been told that I just come home and “try to show off my degree” along with the fact that I attend a university. In this predicament, what am I to do? Do I dumb down my conversation under the presumption that someone will not understand me, or do I maintain my integrity and speak properly? This situation is one that I know I am not alone in, which leads me to ask: What is standard American English, really? I think it has more to do with where you are rather than a “by the book” grammatical breakdown of a dialect given to a country by the

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