Response to “Thar be idots”


I found Kurt Hanson’s Sept. 24 column about grammar problematic.

As an editor for the Universe, Hanson has probably taken English language classes at BYU. So he should understand that language changes over time, through what are at first considered mistakes. If this weren’t the case, we might still sound like Chaucer.

There is a deeper problem, though, with the popular “moralizing prescriptivist” platform Hanson takes in his column.

Standard American English is separated from other varieties of English only by prestige. Other forms of English, such as Appalachian or Black American English, follow their own grammars consistently and possess complete vocabularies. So calling someone an idiot for using nonstandard English — like “your” for “you’re” in a tweet or Facebook post — shows a misunderstanding of disadvantaged groups and shores up barriers to social progress.

While I do endorse Hanson’s implied contention that language needs to communicate, I take serious issue with elitist implications at the heart of his argument.

Jackson Tetmeyer
Zionsville, Ind.

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