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  1. #1
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    Post What is good English?

    I am given an essay assignment with the title "what is good English". I was asked to touch on the standard and non-standard English and probably on grammar usage, yet I still can't get to the core of the essay. The question now is, what exactly is good English?

  2. #2
    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: What is good English?

    It depends very much on the sttitude of the person who is making the judgment. Strict grammarians would define good English as meeting their standards, while others would say that successful communication is good English. There's also the aspect of beauty of language, especially in literature.

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    Default Re: What is good English?

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    It depends very much on the sttitude of the person who is making the judgment. Strict grammarians would define good English as meeting their standards, while others would say that successful communication is good English. There's also the aspect of beauty of language, especially in literature.
    I would suggest that if a person considers himself a strict grammarian, regarding the wayward and disorderly English language, then that person is unfit to pass judgement on the quality of anyone's English.

  4. #4
    mykwyner is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: What is good English?

    Don't we teachers know the answer to this question? Good English is what your teacher expects you to speak and write. I never miss an opportunity to tell students what rule number one is in academia. Give the teacher what he wants.

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    Default Re: What is good English?

    Good English depends on your point of view, and that depends a lot on culture. And it can change over time as well.

    What is good English in one situation may not be good English in another situation. I was working through a text with some students the other day; it was full of phrases like "this requires the use of overly large consoles", which I said means the same as "you need consoles which are too big". "Ah yes," said one student, "I can tell that the English in the text is better than what you just said." I pointed out that while it might be good formal English, you wouldn't ever speak like that in the pub. Both sentences are good English in their correct domains, but the first one would be bad English in casual conversation, and the second would be bad English in a technical report.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: What is good English?

    Any other teachers here who, when stuck for an answer to the question "why", fall back on my reply "Because I say so"?

    Luckily my adult students are sensitive enough not to throw anything at me which can cause permanent damage. But seriously, how can anyone explain the 12 (+) pronunciations of "ugh" at the end of words - at least without your students losing the will to live?

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    Default Re: What is good English?

    I tell my students the reason English, or any other language, was developed was to help us transmit a thought from our mind into someone else's mind.
    If our choice of words accurately achieves this task, as well as - or better than - any other combination, then we are obviously speaking (or writing) correct English.
    Some grammarians fantasize that they are laying down rules for the language, whereas in reality they are merely attempting, and often failing, to accurately describe its behaviour.

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    Default Re: What is good English?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavyBCN
    how can anyone explain the 12 (+) pronunciations of "ugh" at the end of words - at least without your students losing the will to live?
    I blame the Saxons and the Normans (despite being descended from the latter).

  9. #9
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    Default Re: What is good English?

    In my country,people speak 'Singlish' mostly.They mix up with some Chinese,Malay and Indian words together to speak it.They always end sentences with 'lah'.Based on this spoken language,I think it is totally a broken English.As for me,a good English shouldn't be mixed up with any other languages.

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    Default Re: What is good English?

    Thanks people.
    For me, a proper English would be a good English, that says, prescriptive grammar should be used. It is understood that, messages can be sent across using a descriptive grammar, and yet the listeners can understand. This, I would call it a successful communication, whether or not prescriptive or descriptive is used.

    Sadly, I'm at a dead end, and my essay is due in another two days.

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