Standard English and Its Role in Upholding the Value of Regional and Non-Standard Varieties of English
Understanding the dynamics between Standard English and regional or non-standard varieties is essential, especially in a multicultural and multilingual world. In a general sense, Standard English refers to the form of English language that is widely accepted and used in formal settings. It is often characterized by specific grammar, syntax, and pronunciation rules. However, the existence of Standard English doesn’t diminish the value of regional or non-standard varieties; instead, it plays a crucial role in preserving them.
The primary function of Standard English is to facilitate effective communication, especially in formal settings like academia, media, and the corporate world. It serves as a common medium of communication that ensures mutual intelligibility across different regions and nations. However, it is the regional or non-standard varieties that often give English its depth, color, and unique cultural flavor. They represent the diversity and richness of English and the various cultures that utilize it.
In truth, the relationship between Standard English and regional or non-standard varieties is symbiotic. Standard English borrows from these varieties, adopting words and phrases that eventually become part of the standard vocabulary. Words like “avatar,” originating from Sanskrit, or “safari” from Swahili, are examples of how Standard English has been enriched by non-standard varieties.
Moreover, non-standard dialects can express local identity, evoke a sense of belonging, and showcase the cultural and historical diversity within the English language. While Standard English enables a wider reach, non-standard varieties enable depth of expression within a particular community.
It is equally essential that the teaching and learning of English acknowledge and respect the existence of these non-standard varieties. While teaching Standard English, educators can introduce regional and non-standard varieties to students. This approach helps students appreciate the linguistic diversity within the English language, promoting a more comprehensive understanding of English’s global reach and cultural impact.
Furthermore, a balanced view of Standard and non-standard English helps maintain the vitality and relevance of regional dialects. Standard English provides a frame of reference, against which these varieties can be appreciated for their unique qualities.
In media and literature, the use of regional or non-standard English varieties can add authenticity to character voices and settings. Characters speaking in regional dialects can provide readers or viewers with a more immersive and genuine experience.
While Standard English plays a vital role in ensuring global communication and mutual intelligibility, the regional and non-standard varieties of English hold cultural, historical, and communal value. Recognizing the importance of both in their respective spheres leads to a more inclusive understanding of the English language. Balancing the two can foster a global community that respects linguistic diversity, promotes cultural understanding, and ensures effective communication.