Why not use Standard English all the time?

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Language is a powerful communication tool the user holds to express their individual identity and ingroup solidarity. The use of Standard English helps to direct this, as it acts as the structure of communication, ingroup and between speech communities to effectively present a standard for mutual understanding. Outside of Standard English comes the use of slang, netspeak and textspeak, which helps to develop and enrich the language, as well as evolve with contemporary Australia and its fast paced lifestyle.

Using the Standard all the time would be exclusive of the linguistic freedom formed by the world beyond Standard English with varying ethnolects, but is also a necessity to build our language upon. We communicate for fun – it is fulfilling and provides for ‘good conversation’, an exchange of words between speakers with mutual values and interests to entertain ourselves and our audience. ‘Correct’ English use in these contexts is not always essential, due to the close social distance of the interlocutors and sharing of idioms and slang within one’s speech community.

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Teenspeak is a widely used form of communication, and is seen just as legitimate as an email or an essay (Georgina Dimopoulos from The Age), as it provides successful communication among its users, and acts to reflect ones self with the amount of language play. It helps to enrich the language by stepping outside of Standard English, which heavy inclusions of the lexeme ‘like’ to support varying purposes, ‘It just doesn’t, like, fit right, ya know? ’, in this case, helps to ‘soften the blow’ instead of being upfront and direct, ‘It just doesn’t fit right’. Like’ and ‘goes is also used as a replacement of ‘said’ in the retelling of stories and events, ‘…and the other one’s like ‘I didn’t for shit, eh? ’ and the other one goes, ‘chk chk boom’’ (Clare Werbeloff, in relation to a shooting at Kings Cross). The lexeme used instead of ‘say’ or ‘said’ creates an informal and friendly register among its users, the younger generation, which cannot be as easily produced with Standard English being used constantly.

Other forms of the English language are developed from speech communities with an intention, for efficiency and to show inclusion, and to exclude others. It also helps to convey a specific identity of the speaker, with the use of syntactic and phonological differences from Standard English. These modifications form non-standard dialects, transferring the speaker’s cultural background and language to provide a better perception and reflection of identity. The falling intonation accompanied with interrogatives in the Asian ethnolect, such as ‘Gravy? , is the opposite of the rising intonation used for the same purpose by Australians, and can quickly cause conflict between the two communities due to the missing benchmark in language. Pronoun deletion in ‘No like’ (‘I don’t like it’) is a feature of many ethnolects (Greek, Aboriginal English), and is differing from the Standard, yet still helps to get the message across. Ethnolects develop from Standard English, and helps to express a user’s identity through their language use and in-group solidarity within the speech community.

There are a range of English varieties which are different from the Standard, developed from communities of speakers all sharing the same use of language. Aboriginal English, a dialect of Australian English, remains a lingua franca for their speakers, used as a common language to communicate between tribes for mutual understanding. The valid dialect changes and alters the Standard for their own usage and meaning, for instance, ‘dreaming’, which Aborigines use to refer to as the Aboriginal creation story, a semantic narrowing of the English denotation.

Aboriginal English is just as legit as Standard English, its purpose and use is as effective for its users as Standard English is for their users. It is counted as a vital tool for their speakers, and because it is not the Standard, does not mean it’s not as important as a mode of communication and self identity. Language variations help to form an identity for the speaker, whereas Standard English provides a common ground for everyone to use through lexical, syntactic and grammatical structures.

The Australian national identity is filled with shared colloquialisms from the wide speech community, and represents the core values we adhere to, as well as our personality. To ‘have a fair go’ is not a part of Standard English, but works on Australians’ behalf to express our laidback and carefree character, a unique idiom known to our nation, exclusive of others beyond the speech community. A popular part of Australia’s culture is football, with many idioms and phrases within the media expressive of our identity, developed from the structures of Standard English.

To allow someone a ‘fair go’ is allowing one equal treatment, and was present with Jack Riewoldt when the player did not receive his fair share of free kicks, clearly there but not acknowledged by the umpires, with the coach, Hardwick, exclaiming ‘Give Jack Riewoldt a fair go’, directing his speech to the umpires of the game. The use of ‘a fair go’ in this sporting context allows the coach to be friendly but firm, a less direct and blunt statement, but still allows him to convey the message strongly with the use of slang to keep it casual and informal.

This is something the use of Standard English cannot perform to in this context without lacking substance or politeness, and ‘Give Jack Riewoldt equal treatment’ does not give the same effect or relaxed tone found with ‘a fair go’. A variety without a geographical base, Standard English is seen as prestigious and in association with formal contexts. It acts as a benchmark for all English speakers, and is a vital tool for communication, providing a mutual source of understanding, and works for a large audience around the world.

The perception that the variety is superior does not confirm that it is superior (Kate Burridge), with non-standard dialects and forms being used by many speech communities. The standard cannot be used all the time, due to different dialects and sociolects developed from social classes and cultures, which are used to increase in-group solidarity, and provide its own effectiveness in communication with its users.

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Why not use Standard English all the time?. (2017, Mar 19). Retrieved from


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