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a young schoolteacher in mississippi says that the grammar and bad language of her students disturb her, but she worries that to correct them insults their culture......what do you think?

The part where culture comes in would be how best to address the problem to the students. Cultural difference could be a racial thing, it could be a class thing, it could be a rural vs. urban thing.

Most students are very aware, even if they've never articulated it, that they use language differently depending on the target. In written language, for example, there's the formal paper, newspaper editorials, instant messaging. In spoken language, they speak differently w/ their friends than with a respected adult (teacher, pastor, doctor.)

There's no need at all to get into judging the language differences. Indeed, if we're actually talking about two different languages (English vs. Spanish, or Mandarin vs. Japanese), we should do more to applaud bilingualism while encouraging English language skills. No language is innately better than another.

It's trickier when you're discussing differences in class register or a "white" vs. "black" English, for example. Dialects are often judged to be inferior or superior. We like to look down on nonstandard English speakers as if nonstandard meant substandard. Nonstandard English different, it's not appropriate in all situations, but for some people in some circumstances it's a valid form of communication.

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