While reading Young’s article, I recalled a linguistic video I saw on TikTok of all places. The main point made in the video was that a native speaker of a language cannot speak that language incorrectly. It was a basic concept, and I didn’t think much further of it until reading Fish’s quote: “I am not here to take that language from you; I’m here to teach you a second one.” The notion of a standard formal method of writing is, frankly, bogus. There is no correct way to speak the english language; there are so many dialects unique to certain groups of people, whether that be based around region or race, all of which are equally “correct” ways of speaking. Therefore, there is no singular “correct” way to write.
I’d also like to emphasize the point that he made towards the end of the article, specifically how media and technology has allowed for language to be more interconnected than ever. I find myself picking up new phrases that I’ve heard from various places on the internet all the time, and it’s fascinating when I hear someone else use the exact same words I’ve adopted. Especially in online classes, I’ll see a comment from someone who I’ve never met and lives on the opposite side of the country from me, and yet we share the same slang terms. Language is becoming more fluid in motion, making code meshing easier than ever when it comes to informal methods of communication. Yet, formal writing remains somewhat unaffected.
I remember personally coming into conflict with formal writing in elementary school. Specifically, in one of my first pieces of writing, I ended every single sentence with an exclamation point. Granted, I had just been told what an exclamation point was used for, so I was anxious to use it. My teacher told me that I should use them more sparingly, only when something really deserved emphasis. This was upsetting; in my head, each sentence was packed with energy, and so I wrote them how I imagined them being said. Quickly from there, I learned that the way that we actually speak was entirely different from the way we should write. While trivial, my own beef with the way I’ve been forced to write provoked my interest in the code meshing part of the article. Why do we write the way that we do? Or at least, why should we? Ultimately, when I write papers academically, I always write for the teacher. I typically aim to please with varied sentence structure, no contractions, and absence of words that have been deemed overused and dead. My own displeasure with being unable to use the end punctuation I wanted expands to the broadened inability of any type of vernacular to make an appearance in formal writing. Up until reading this article, I never realized the extent to which I write to please the white standard. And yet, even having identified this, I don’t quite know how to stop!