Social Question

Zaku's avatar

Why do people often not use capital letters when writing modern English?

Asked by Zaku (12040 points ) July 16th, 2010

Traditionally, capital letters are used for the first letter of each sentence, and for all “proper nouns”, to indicate that a specific person place or thing is being written about.

I notice that for ten or more years, there seems to be a fad of not doing this, particularly with people’s names, pseudonyms, logins, and even the pronoun I,but also for names of nations, etc.

I am interested in people’s reasons for not doing this. I realize that there will be many different answers, and there is no wrong answer. Please share.

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84 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I believe it leaked over from computing where email addresses and URLs are lower case.

gasman's avatar

The rules of grammar/ syntax have not really changed, and no serious publication would abandon the rules you describe. In the present electronic age, however, a great deal of writing is via computer or texting, and people have gotten lazy with capitalization (and traditional rules of language in general), while educational standards, in the US at least, have fallen to an all-time low with regard to language.

Whether this lamentable situation is merely a temporary generational lapse, or signals the beginning of a long, permanent slide away from language standards, is hard to forecast.

ninahenry's avatar

Laziness.

curlyz's avatar

well, i think, partially, online chatting cause it…just so it’s fast and convenient..
when i’m chatting i’m doing it too….you see..;) but only online, not in the academic, or other writing..

SnowCloud's avatar

Personally I only skip capitalization if I’m chatting in an instant messenger. I also don’t use periods in IMing (though i use other punctuation). It’s easier to not have to worry about things like that, and it makes the conversation more informal.
If someone is particularly slow at typing (on the computer or on their phone), then that would bring even more of a reason to simplify things.
I don’t think it’s as excusable in forums where you can and should check your post before submitting, but it is a left over behavior, and people can be lazy.

I’ve never seen this happening when words are hand-written, though. There’s no “shift” button in real life- it’ll take just as fast to write “I” as it is to write “i.” Just to show that the problem (if you want to call it a problem) is only digital- the way people type.

With usernames, it could be that a number of people don’t even use pronouns in it (like mine, though I capitalized…) or that they’re used to not using capitals (for previous reasons) or that they don’t want to hold shift every time they type their name, to log in or whatever. Maybe they like the way it looks.

anartist's avatar

Names, online pseudonyms, and logins are deferring to programming languages. In all spaces cause problems. In some cases caps are anathema. In others, the formula has become start lowercase and if more than one wordm capitalize the second word to separate it from the first. And then there is me. lazy. takes 2 hands or fancy stretching exercises to do a cap [or parentheses instead of brackets or double quotes instead of single].

ninahenry's avatar

If I may use @SnowCloud as an example: “though i use other punctuation” > “though I use other punctuation”

Everyone does it, even when you do check. It is laziness and the fact that we’ve been brought up in a fast-paced society where everything has to be done fast and we have to take all possible shortcuts to do things. People aren’t used to slowing down. ppl hu type lyk dis try to save time by doing so although they just seem to look like unfortunate twits.

gailcalled's avatar

I find it very difficult to understand many phrases. Such as this; I am reading my favorite book now the girl with the tattooed dictionary i really luv it and wand sujjestions fro books that are like that.lol

But there is the Converse. many folks are prone to capitalize common Nouns that they think are Important and then Write london england.

curlyz's avatar

@ninahenry – you have a good eye! LOL

SnowCloud's avatar

@ninahenry Haha, you caught me! I most notoriously forget to capitalize “i,” especially if I’m adding something as an afterthought like that. I don’t know why. I guess it’s just jarring on my finger to have to randomly hit shift in the middle of a sentance. =b

ninahenry's avatar

@Stasi ahahaha :) p.s. I hope I didn’t offend you @SnowCloud as I’ve made many mistakes myself (even when answering questions about grammar) but I guess I’ll try to look over my answers more to keep Fluther mods, people like @Zaku and my old English teacher happy.

the100thmonkey's avatar

@gasman (and @everyone else on this thread, for that matter) – it’s got bugger all to do with grammar or syntax. The issue is punctuation – capitalisation, in this case. It’s got bugger all to do with the pace of society, and ultimately we have to ask just how important capitalisation really is for communication. if i don’t capitalise when i write that the capital of spain is madrid, does it really affect communication?

I suggest that it does not, and that therefore the correct use of punctuation (grocer’s apostrophes, anyone?) is not anywhere near as important in communication as people believe it to be – there’s more to it than that.

If you consider how written English has fundamentally altered since the rise of the SMS and IM programs, then it’s no surprise that functionally useless (yes – the capital letter is functionally useless – the Romans, progenitors of our writing system, survived without differentiation in the sentence/proper noun initial letter) items such as the capital “I” or capitalisation of proper nouns.

You should all understand that abbreviation tends to presuppose familiariaty with the original term, and that a great many languages (all that I’ve studied – French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Danish) actually spell far more phonetically than English. Punctuation systems deeply reflect ideas about discourse organisation (or processability) . For example, my Spanish-speaking students chronically over-use commas. It is a feature of written Spanish discourse that sentences are generally longer than in English (depending on genre, naturally), and that related information is relayed in subordinate and other supporting clauses. I sometimes feel that the only way to stop them doing in in English is to beat it out of them with a stick.

It’s important to recognise that correctly spelt and punctuated English is generally more of a marker of education, class and social grou (lol) than it is of intelligence or desire to work.

In short:

1. If you think whingeing about it is going to do anything, you’re pissing in the wind.

2. If you think it’s connected with intelligence or desire to work, you’re wrong. You’re also a snob.

3. Language doesn’t behave as you’d like it to. Unfortunately, you can’t discipline it, or beat the abuse out of the abuser. Move on.

ninahenry's avatar

@the100thmonkey I agree that we’re slacking because lack of capitalization does not compromise a sentence’s comprehensibility, but I also feel that other reasons for this are speediness and laziness. I don’t think whining is necessary but we could all pull our socks up a bit on the matter, for the sake of preserving the language.

the100thmonkey's avatar

The language neither needs nor wants to be preserved.

This is why none of us speak Middle English.

ninahenry's avatar

@the100thmonkey very true. I just hope it doesn’t regress due to laziness.

the100thmonkey's avatar

It can’t regress.

Language is.

We make the judgements.

perspicacious's avatar

ignorant or lazy

ninahenry's avatar

@the100thmonkey I’m not sure how to express myself so that you understand me but what I’m hoping is that it doesn’t spiral downwards so that we all ignore grammar and spelling. If there were NO rules we wouldn’t be able to communicate. And if we don’t continue to push these rules at least a little bit i.e. by teaching English then it is connected to intelligence. I don’t think that makes me snobby.

MissA's avatar

It’s more than irritating to me, when people type in all caps. My belief is that they don’t know what is supposed to be capitalized, so they don’t.

But, that’s not the topic at hand.

@the100thmonkey says, “if i don’t capitalise when i write that the capital of spain is madrid, does it really affect communication?”

It does if you’re directing that comment at me. It’s very distracting.

I’m just about certain that I won’t be the next one washing sweet potatoes.

Jeruba's avatar

I agree with @marinelife that the prevalence of this habit is spillover from the Internet.

There have always been ignorant usages and carelessness, not to mention the occasional stylist like e.e. cummings, but it wasn’t until computers became part of everyday life that we got used to seeing proper names without initial caps. It took me a long time to stop cringing when I saw my own name all in lowercase.

In the olden days of computers, everything was in uppercase. Character sets were small, and lowercase was an unnecessary refinement. So all we saw in code and computer output was all caps. I suppose someone eventually decided that it was a pointless extra step to hit the shift key for all of that on a standard keyboard.

morphail's avatar

@ninahenry
“If there were NO rules we wouldn’t be able to communicate.”

Many languages have no rules – that is, they have no books on usage and grammar. Many languages have no writing systems at all. Are you prepared to claim that speakers of those languages can’t communicate?

ninahenry's avatar

no I’m not prepared to claim that. I haven’t come across that before though and I was answering the question on the English language – using ‘we’ as English speaking people.

morphail's avatar

@ninahenry my point is that even if we had no formal rules for spelling or grammar we would still be able to communicate. English survived from about 1066 to 1500 with no formal rules for spelling (and concern over grammar arose in around 1700), and some of our best literature was written during that period.

ninahenry's avatar

@morphail I don’t think it would work if we were to let grammar and spelling slip now. That’s all I’m trying to say, but I do agree. This certainly is an interesting discussion.

morphail's avatar

what might happen now is that English might diverge more quickly into different dialects. or it might not. but that’s not the same thing as not being able to communicate with my neighbour just because we don’t have a standard spelling.

ninahenry's avatar

@morphail i jst dnt wnt all ov us 2 end up speeking lyk dis. If you can’t understand why I can’t help you.

morphail's avatar

@ninahenry abbreviations will destroy our society, just like they destroyed the roman empire :)
http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=83

Jeruba's avatar

I don’t believe there’s such a thing as a language that has no rules. “No textbooks and formal grammar books on the language” does not equal “no rules.”

morphail's avatar

@Jeruba I completely agree! I was going by what I assumed @ninahenry meant by “no rules”.

Carly's avatar

I tend to sign my name “carly” instead of “Carly” because I want to seem humble
(that’s really just and excuse for laziness)

ratboy's avatar

I can’t understand the mindset of people who contend that the standard English of this particular time is some sort of sacred institution that can only change for the worse: “regress,” “degenerate,” “spiral downward.” Is the English of Shakespeare a degenerate form of Chaucer’s English?

Frteach's avatar

I have been writing and typing my name without capital letters and initialing any and all documents with lower case letters (even when all others are using caps) ever since the first day I was introduced to and fell in love with the works of e. e. cummings, many years ago!

As an English and French teacher, I can tell you without hesitation that our language usage is deteriorating. It isn’t even remotely similar to the change between Caucer and Shakespeare. It is a change that reflects poor language usage at home (therefore little reinforcement for the child’s studies), poor education systems, laziness and apathy, etc. Teachers work very hard on this seemingly hopeless task.

the100thmonkey's avatar

@ninahenry: Ypu should go an read my post again – this has already been covered: being able to abbreviate implies a knowledge of the ‘correct’ spelling, otherwise abbreviation would be impossible.

Ironically, you chose to use “y” when spelling ‘like’ [lyk] – at least the relationship between the phoneme and the grapheme is clear! English has an ornate, nay, baroque spelling system that really defies logic. Many of the abbreviations you dislike (and ‘I dislike them’ is really all that anyone is qualified to aver) are more efficient and ultimately clearee ways of describing the sounds commonly made by native speakers of English.

Basically (and this applies to the ideas of ‘rules’ in language also), dropping a prescriptivist attitude to language enables you to explore it and enjoy it, rather than whining about people that don’t behave like you do. Spelling and grammar (although English isn’t really a ‘grammatical’ language in the same way that Spanish or Latin are; it is lexico-syntactic) in English are ultimately determined by the audiences and linguistic groups that use those systems, not some book written by someone with the arrogance to believe they can capture the language.

@Frteach: total rot.

Frteach's avatar

@the100thmonkey – are you a teacher?

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I refuse to pass judgments on others about their failure to comply with the rules of standard English.

If their writing is nearly unintelligible I flag their answer and I ignore what they have to say. I don’t label the writer as stupid or lazy.

I make the occasional typographical error that misses my attention on review before I submit my answers. I do my best to be careful.

If my vocabulary is sometimes difficult, and no one has said it is, then I apologize but the truth is I write the way I think.

I suggest that people write so that others will be willing to read what they contribute. Capitalization and punctuation makes writing more readable.

I someone does not care to make the effort, they cannot expect others to be willing to wade through what they have to say.

the100thmonkey's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence: Ultimately, the expectation of the audience is the determiner of what is considered acceptable (which is, frankly, a tautology)

I take issue with ‘readable’ as an absolute, though – it is not. If capitalisation really made things more readable, surely every language would have capitalisation?

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Readability is a subjective judgment. Every language has rules, just not always the same rules. Consider the sentence structure in German where the position of subject, object and verb order differ greatly from English. They use four cases and English uses two.

jerv's avatar

I always thought it was because you needed at least an Associates degree or equivalent education to use the SHIFT key. Do you realize how hard it is to reach out with that one pinky and hold one button while using another finger to press a letter key? That takes years of training!

NaturallyMe's avatar

I have no idea, but the only one i don’t capitalize is the “i”, mostly because it’s just easier not doing it, and i’ve now gotten into the habit of not doing it, except when i write professional emails/letters.

mattbrowne's avatar

The urge to rush things.

ninahenry's avatar

I agree with @Frteach. @the100thmonkey I’m sorry but that is the way I feel. If you find it acceptable for people to talk like that you should teach it to your class but I for sure will call in sick that day. I’m out.

Jabe73's avatar

Maybe it is just me but sometimes I just do not think about it. Sometimes I am more interested in getting my point across while typing real fast that I just forget. Most times I will catch my mistakes after I read my own posts. When I’m actually writing something I rarely make these mistakes. Mood has alot to do with it as well with me.

the100thmonkey's avatar

The interesting thing is that I don’t need to teach it to anyone except those who learn English as an additional language – the native speakers know how to do it already.

That’s an important point to consider: If the ESL learners need to be taught “how 2 rite lyk dis”, it suggests that it’s not obvious and not a regression of the language – if it were, it would be naturally how they write. They don’t. They make mistakes, but they measure their performance against the standards presented to them in classrooms and ESL textbooks.

Writing ‘correct’ or ‘proper’ English is (the main point I made earlier is as @Dr_Lawrence outlined very succinctly) a subjective judgement.

People agree (consciously or not) on ‘rules’ – there are none inherent in language.

I guess the point I’m making is that really we need to reconceptualise what language actually is. Language is ultimately not just a means for communication, but is also a system of social signs indicating belonging to groups, attitudes to others, attitudes to self and attitudes to the world. If you look at the kind of language that is being deployed on this thread, you’ll notice that it is of a distinct and disticntive type. If you compare with with the kind of language deployed in in-game chat in online games, you’ll notice several distinct and distinctive features.

The same goes for txtspk, which is a genre all of its own with its own ‘rules’. Shakespeare’s writing style would be inappropriate for an SMS because it’s too verbose for a genre that is focused on efficient communication of information.

All of the claims I’ve seen about declining standards are supported with examples from different genres of written English which are quite different from the genre they in use at that time (look at the composition guidelines on Fluther for an idea of what I’m talking about) and arguably that the contributors are familiar with or use. This is akin to claiming that standards of social etiquette at wedding ceremonies are declining by pointing to the behaviour of men at stag parties.

Personally, I dislike txtspk – and don’t use it – but I’m aware enough of the uses of language to understand that it isn’t ‘incorrect’. There are discernible patterns to the structure of the language and its use. I reserve my judgement on it for myself because it does the job it evolved for.

It would be inappropriate (i.e. not fit for purpose) to use txtspk in an academic essay, for example, but apart from the apocryphal tales of sea monsters the student in Arkansas who handed in a university essay in txtspk, there’s little-to-no evidence that this actually happens. David Crystal goes into a lot more detail about it here.

More people are reading and writing more than ever before. Standards aren’t declining, literacy has never been more widespread.

You’re perfectly entitled to disagree with opinions. It’s kind of difficult to disagree with facts. Not impossible, but it does require special effort.

Frteach's avatar

@augustian – Aren’t the rules here that we remain friendly?

The Guidelines: General Section

Responses must:
Focus on answering the question
Relate to the discussion and be on-topic
Be respectful; you can disagree without being disagreeable
Adhere to the writing standards

I ask, because @the100thmonkey has rudely labeled my opinion as “total rot.” Is an apology or something due? I was assuming that things would remain pleasant here…

MissA's avatar

@Frteach Maybe it doesn’t mean what you think it does. @the100thmonkey doesn’t capitalize ‘total’, however he does place a period after ‘rot’, which might signify that ‘rot.’ is an abbreviation.

Just a thought.

gailcalled's avatar

@the100thmonkey: And yet, you write with all the conventions (silly or not) that make our present written language clear, interesting and comprehensible.

If you had written your several long answers in a slovenly, lazy or uninformed way, I would not have read them carefully (and checked several words related to linguistics in the dictionary).

Your answers, as writ, are ready to be published. A line-by-line editor (if they still exist) would have nothing to do.

the100thmonkey's avatar

@gailcalled: just because I choose to use the conventions (I haven’t denied that there are conventions anywhere, have I) does not mean that I am unaware that they exist and that the panic about declines in literacy is as a chimaera generally proposed by people who do not fully understand the position they take.

MissA's avatar

@the100thmonkey

You’re enjoying the hell out of this, aren’t you!

gailcalled's avatar

@the100thmonkey: Just say “Thank you.” (chimera…swoon.)

the100thmonkey's avatar

edit

Bleh. I cocked that up.

morphail's avatar

fwiw I agree with @the100thmonkey. Change is an observed fact of all languages, and we have observed languages changing for the past 2000 years. If language was going to deteriorate to a point where no one could understand anyone else, it should have happened by now.

gailcalled's avatar

@morphail: Have you read some of the questions here before they got modded?

morphail's avatar

@gailcalled but people being bad at spelling isn’t the same thing at all as “language deteriorating”. Sure, sometimes it’s hard to understand what someone has written online. But this won’t cause English to deteriorate. We know it won’t because English didn’t deteriorate during the period when it didn’t have formal rules for spelling and grammar.

the100thmonkey's avatar

@gailcalled: Thank you.

@MissA: Yes. Yes, I am.

@morphail: most spelling errors (where error is defined as usage that cannot be corrected by the user) are usually display some kind of logic to them anyway. My eldest son (6 years old) is learning to write at the moment. He understands many of the correspondences between symbol and sound, but still makes mistakes as he’s yet to learn the exceptions and the more arcane digraphs and trigraphs, etc…

For instance, about three months ago, he drew a picture of a rocket, which he spelled ‘rokit’ when he labelled the picture.

Phonetically, he’s spot on.

gailcalled's avatar

@morphail: May I call you “Morph”? Some of the queries here make mistakes in usage, grammar, spelling, punctuation and some of the oddest pseudo-idioms that I have seen. Never mind mixed metaphors and invented words. Nouns turn into verbs, verbs turn into gerunds, adjectives turn into adverbs and vice versa.

“Deterioration” and “incomprehensibility” are only a measure of the speed with which certain usage catches on, or the willingness to accept anything.

I still remember William Safire’s fulminations on using “impact” as a verb. RIP.

jerv's avatar

@Frteach If you consider that unpleasant then it is a good thing that you haven’t been some of the places I have where “bitch” and “cocksucker” are used as gender neutral terms of endearment.

The way I see it, we all have our own styles. Some of us are meticulous while others are more half-assed. Some of us are courteous and polite regardless of our true feelings while others are more plain-spoken and direct and a who (those begging to be modded into oblivion) are intentionally crude and rude.
Personally, I am meticulous about spelling and am mildly irked by a certain someone who accidentally hit two keys and typed “fgenerally”, but I am willing to hive him a pass considering how many times I accidentally typed “remeber” and forgot the second M. WE all make typos from tme to time
As for content, I come across as ruder than I actually am and you have to get to know me a little before you realize that I an not a total asshole. The Fluther guidelines are there to keep us from being total assholes, but there is nothing there saying that we can’t be plain-spoken. If there were, I would’ve been ban-hammered months ago :D

morphail's avatar

@gailcalled sure, you can call me Morph. Why not :)
When I see “deteriorated” I think of a state where we can’t communicate important ideas or important distinctions because we’ve lost the means to do so. (Which is nonsense – if we want to talk about something, we’ll find the words to do it with.) Maybe this is not what others mean when they use “deterioration”.

And of course we see “Nouns turn into verbs, verbs turn into gerunds, adjectives turn into adverbs and vice versa” – this is functional shift and it’s been a common feature of English since English lost most of its inflections 700 years ago.

gailcalled's avatar

@morphail: I thanking you for that prevockable answering.

edit: provokable.

the100thmonkey's avatar

To all involved in the thread:

If I have offended any you with my rather direct language, I apologise.

As you can probably infer, I feel rather strongly about this topic. I teach English, my native language, which I love (both the language and its pedagogy).

It really pains me, in a period where there is more being written and read by more people than ever before, that some are criticised for exploiting the opportunities for communication and expression afforded by their simply being alive in the right place at the right time. I don’t have any statistics to back it up (although it would make a nice study), but I suspect (as a hypothesis) that there are more literate people alive right now than there have been literate people alive since writing evolved. Personally, I think this is a simply amazing possibility.

I think the diversity of usage of English is its strength. That is in much greater need of preservation than English itself. Has anyone here heard Hinglish or Singlish? They’re varieties of English that would leave a native speaker from the UK or the US totally nonplussed. Going by many of the opinions expressed in this thread, neither are ‘proper’ varieties of English, but are rather English so littered with mistakes that they’re incomprehensible to us. Strangley, those in India who speak Hinglish, and those in Singapore who use Singlish seem to get by just fine without us correcting them. This leads me to suggest that there are systems and conventions in those languages that are agreed on and exploited by the users of those languages for the purpose: communication.

The same can be said to be true of Orcadian, or Lallans. They are not corruptions or deteriorations of English, they are varieties of some form of “Anglic” that are appropriate to and used by speakers from the corresponding regions.

There are issues of identity and class at play within this conversation.

Jeruba's avatar

@gailcalled: A line-by-line editor (if they still exist) would have nothing to do.

Not so.

skittles's avatar

Because, people have gotten lazier and want a faster and more efficient way to reply/talk to someone online/through texting.
Also because people think that because they are just typing casually and it’s nothing important, that it doesn’t matter to use former grammar while typing/texting someone.

And everything else combined above haha.

jerv's avatar

@Jeruba You still use ed? We all know that Emacs rulez!

Jeruba's avatar

@jerv, I don’t understand your comment.

jerv's avatar

@Jeruba Line editors (as opposed to full-screen text editors) for UNIX/Linux. Geek humor.

Jeruba's avatar

Oh. In my lexicon and in the present context, a line editor is still a copyeditor, a person who edits written content word by word and line by line.

jerv's avatar

Fair enough. I am known to switch contexts for the sake of a joke though, being the incurable smartass that I am.

Frteach's avatar

Thanks to everyone for comments, apologies, et al. I wonder if Hingish and Singlish are mélanges of English grammar with rules and their language’s grammar rules? Another question I’m wondering is @the100thmonkey, are you thinking of the numerical count of literate people in the world or the percentage of literate people to non literate? Either way, it is an interesting topic.

I was wondering, too, if there is anyone else here who teaches language in the Southern parts of the United States? It is really interesting…

jerv's avatar

@Frteach They speak English down there?

Seriously though, most of the Southern people I know are either old-school “Suthun gent’men” with the mind of a scholar and the enunciation of an alien, or ignorant rednecks that I am ashamed to admit that I am even of the same species.

Frteach's avatar

@jerv – Not very often! I tell people ALLL the time that I teach French to students who can’t speak English. lol It’s really the truth. Language evolves and will do so forever, but these yokuls murder it!

anartist's avatar

@the100thmonkey Thank you 4 the interesting Guardian article link. IOU14that

the100thmonkey's avatar

@anartist: np m8. its vry intrsting.

Frteach's avatar

People who learn English as a second, third, etc. language may make mistakes like: “I am in this country for 3 months.” There is no problem with that.

I have spoken to parents who, shocked at the bad behavior of their child, have said: “My son disrespected you???” There is no problem with that, either.

My reason for saying language usage is deteriorating is due to our 14–18 year old students that have been taught, know what is right, but deliberately/consciously say these things: “He don’t have no paper.” “She come up to me and said that!” “I should have did it in class yesterday.” This is the language usage that is everywhere in Alabama and for me, it is simply not acceptable. I have to do something about it. I simply have to! They are speaking as the members of their family and neighbors do.

[these thoughts do not necessarily represent any other being except Frteach’s-lol]

morphail's avatar

@Frteach you’re talking about register and dialect. We use different language in different situations. The reason “should have did” is unacceptable has nothing to do with clarity or deterioration and has everything to do with social norms. In an essay, your students are expected to use “should have done”. But between friends, they expect each other to use “should have did”. There’s nothing wrong with this. I’m sure you also use language between friends that you wouldn’t use in formal writing.

jerv's avatar

@morphail I agree. “Fuckwad” and “shitdick” are not acceptable pronouns when writing/speaking formally ;)

morphail's avatar

@jerv I was thinking of stuff like differences in register like get/obtain, see/observe, who/whom, ain’t/isn’t, but ok.

the100thmonkey's avatar

Ultimate awesome!

(in case none of you know the book, this is the original)

@Frteach: Are you from Alabama? Have you seen this?

The point I’m trying to make (I think I’ve already posted it) is that you’re pissing into the wind – people speak like that. The fact that you don’t like the way your students speak – it is “simply unacceptable” – is not unique, and, frankly, irrelevant. You can’t stamp it out. You can’t beat it out of them. Diglossia is the norm. It is a part of who they are.

Rather than trying to replace their dialect with something you approve of, why not teach them another and afford it equal status to the dialect they speak? Dialect is central to identity – how else is one expected to identify members of a broader in-group? If your students are incapable of turning in an essay written in the kind of English perceived to be acceptable to the school authorities and yourself, that is when you know you have an opportunity to teach English that will help your learners change their circumstances, should they want to.

jerv's avatar

One thing to bear in mind here is that the US is larger (geographically) than most other English-speaking nations. While accents and dialects differ a little even in a small place like Germany, the changes are even more drastic here.
Personally, I am looked at a bit odd since my accent is a mix of Maine Yankee, Bostonian, and somehow British. I give funny looks to people who call soda “pop”, and have been astonished that some people don’t know what a “grinder” is. let alone make a decent Italian. (Hint; it is cold and does not have marinara sauce!)

gailcalled's avatar

A grinder is also a hero, a sub, a po’ boy and probably has a dozen other aliases.

the100thmonkey's avatar

Yes. I believe we’ve all seen that.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

I think it’s just plain laziness, and the convenience of writing as quickly as possible without having to bother with putting in the capitals. When I’m tired and beat, I sometimes do not capitalize. My message still gets across, so capitalization is not really essential. Writing-wise, however, the proper use of capitals makes for good English.

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