Letter: The riches of dialect

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The Independent Online
Sir: To require children to be taught to speak standard English, as opposed merely to writing it, ignores the overwhelming influence of the home in this most powerful area of early development. I worked for years to correct a particular local speech aberration, grammatically inaccurate in effect, in successive generations of pupils. They would say 'brought' when they meant 'bought'. I now meet some of them as adults and they still say 'brought'.

The commitment to standard English does not necessarily outlaw accents but it condemns the riches of dialect that have successfully served society for centuries. Moreover, there may be a disadvantaging backwash effect on accents if a mood returns to pervade life, leisure, employment, which says that people who sound like BBC newsreaders are somehow better than others.

Yours sincerely,

MERVYN BENFORD

Banbury,

Oxfordshire

15 April

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