Kirsty English is the one the public

Kirsty Moir

LAC101 Assignment 2

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There are many varieties
of English from many countries and regions in the world, with each country developing
a standardized version of the language. Standard American English, Standard Australian
English and Standard Indian English are just a few of the many types of Standard
English that in current use worldwide. Each variety has its own set of characteristics.
I will examine the concept of ‘Standard English’ and consider why it may be
considered by some groups as ‘proper English.’ In addition, I will define the
term ‘proper English.’ As Standard English can be a vague concept, I will
define the term’s meaning and discuss how this connects to other concepts such
as accent, including Received Pronunciation. I will also examine why various
members of society would believe that Standard English is proper English, and
will consider why this may not be the best definition from a sociolinguistic perspective.
As there are many varieties of Standard English, this assignment will focus on
the Standard English used in the United Kingdom rather than varieties used

            ‘Standard English’ is a term that is difficult to define
however, broadly speaking it can be considered the English used in print,
taught in schools or to taught to non-native speakers who are learning the
language. Standard English can be considered a social dialect and is used
primarily by those in a position of power; the media, the Government and widely
throughout the education system. This means it can be considered the
institutionalised version of English. This use can give Standard English some
prestige which may be why it is considered the ‘proper’ form of English. This use
of Standard English can be considered a social convention; there is nothing
preventing the use of a different type of English apart from the fact that Standard
English is the one the public have come to expect. As Standard English has
changed over time, so has the concept of what is correct in that form and this
can lead to some variation within Standard English itself. As new words have
been added to language, Standard English has absorbed these and created
standard forms for their use, some of which may have replaced older or
different forms. Typical characteristics of Standard English include an irregular
way of forming reflexive pronouns, a lack of distinction between the past tense
forms of the auxiliary and the main verb to
do and negative concord is not used. (TRUDGILL, 2008)

            Standard English, unlike some other standard languages,
was never selected deliberately. It developed into what it is now more
gradually and organically; the first form of Standard English was used as the
language of the Royal Court by a group of people who, for the time, were very
well travelled and who typically spent time in the presence of other people
with a similar background. This ‘pre-standard English’ developed from a mix of
dialects, though the predominant dialect was the East Midlands dialect. These
upper classes had the ability to influence the language development and insist
on its use. This means that Standard English has been associated closely with
the upper classes all the way through its development and this lends the dialect
some prestige and this is probably why there is a connotation of Standard
English being ‘better’ than other forms of English.

            ‘Proper’ English in this context means Standard English and
is usually connected to the accent in which is it spoken. For many years, Received
Pronunciation has been considered the ‘proper’ accent and so the two have been
linked, though Standard English can be spoken in any accent. Received Pronunciation
speakers typically avoid non-standard grammatical phrasing and do not use
geographical features of dialect. As Received Pronunciation is used for phonemic
transcriptions, such as those in the dictionary, it is strongly linked with Standard
English. There is a level of prescriptiveness surrounding Standard English, which
means individuals who do not use it can be excluded. For example, a well-educated
and qualified individual may be passed over for a job because they do not use Standard
English and in many sectors of society Standard English is still the required
or expected standard. This attitude goes back many years and is linked to the
development of Standard English; it had many connections to both power and wealth
in society and therefore individuals who do not use it can be seen as less well
educated or even of a lower class than an individual who uses Standard English.

From a sociolinguistic perspective, viewing Standard English as being
better than other types of English is incorrect. Many of the dialect forms have
more complex grammatical rules than Standard English, for example.

            By considering Standard English as the proper form of
English, this means all other forms are considered incorrect. This is a view
that does not consider the way dialects are used in general. An individual will
typically choose the most appropriate from of English depending upon the
context in which they are using it; as a consequence, Standard English is less
commonly used in private conversations, though it would be incorrect to say it
is not used at all. An individual may use their local dialect generally and
then switch to Standard English for more formal events, for example at work. Using
the correct form of English for the right setting is important and this will
depend upon the setting. A child using non-standard English for their
schoolwork is likely to be encouraged to use Standard English, for example.













Holmes, J. and Wilson,
N. 2017. An Introduction to Sociolinguistics (5th
edition). London: Routledge.

Milroy, J. and Milroy, L. 2012. Authority
in language. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Trudgill, P. and Hannah, J. 2008. International English. 5th ed.
London: Hodder Education, p.2.

Wardhaugh, R. and Fuller, J. 2010. An
introduction to sociolinguistics. 6th ed. London: Blackwell Publishing Ltd,





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