Speaking American as Americans Speak It and Speaking English as Jesus and St. Paul Spoke It

ACADEME BLOG

Recently, I posted an item on Sarah Palin’s abuse of the English language, which included her observation that if immigrants don’t want to be stigmatized, they should start “speaking American.” Very coincidentally, later on that same day, I came across an item in the discussion list for the American Dialect Society that included a link to a much lengthier item posted previously to Language Log. The two items are re-posted here with the permission of the author, Ben Zimmer. They demonstrate concretely that Palin’s nativist sensibility has deep historical roots in American life.

First, the item from Language Log:

April 29, 2006

MA FERGUSON, THE APOCRYPHAL KNOW-NOTHING

Eric Bakovic recently invoked the famous saying attributed to Texas Governor Miriam Amanda “Ma” Ferguson: “If the King’s English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it’s good enough for the children of Texas!” Bloggers commenting on Bush’s opposition to “Nuestro

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About martinkich

I am a Professor of English at Wright State University's Lake Campus, where I have been a faculty member for more than 25 years. I have now served multiple terms as the President of the WSU chapter of AAUP, which now includes all full-time instructional faculty, and as the Vice-President of the Ohio Conference of AAUP. I have also served several terms as an at-large member of the Executive Committee of AAUP's Collective Bargaining Congress. In addition to serving as co-editor of the Academe blog, I am also a member of the editorial board of Academe and have been a guest editor for an issue of the magazine on collective bargaining strategies. As co-chair of the Ohio Conference's Communication Committee, I began to do much more overtly political writing during the campaign to repeal Ohio's Senate Bill 5, which would have eliminated the right of faculty to be unionized. I have sustained that activism, and at the risk of stating the obvious, I have very much enjoyed contributing to the Academe Blog and to our chapter blog. I also maintain several other blogs to which I have re-posted, by topic, my posts to the Academe blog, as well as some other items.

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