Doing Our Own Thing

John H. McWhorter. Doing Our Own Thing: The Degradation of Language and Music and Why We Should, Like, Care

A sustained and enjoyable rant about the disappearance of the written register in American English, and the movement towards valuing spontaneous expressivity above reflection, precision or craftsmanship.

As always, it inspires musings on pedagogy. What to do with students who declare they’re going to write a poem because there isn’t any work involved — “it just flows out of me”? Thinking about asking them to write the two versions: first the two-minute hydraulic one, then (after reading extracts from All the Fun’s In How You Say a Thing or similar) another version which includes some deliberate choices of rhythm, rhyme, assonance, consonance, imagery etc.)

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