Updated: Apr 7, 2022
I was talking with a friend of mine the other day and he was asking me to explain my research interests and my thoughts on language and education etc. So, I can’t take credit for the saying, but I was so excited because I knew he was “getting” my talk on language variation when he told me a story about the “flavor of English” that some of the nurses at his hospital spoke. I loved how he coined that.
Yes, we can call them dialects, but that still seems to put a hierarchy (even though it shouldn’t) on the way we speak. When he said “flavor”, it made me smile. So, I started to think, this is a good way to explain language variation without making Standard American English or Mainstream American English or Language of Wider Communication (there are so many terms used, depending on which discipline you are reading in) a higher and more intelligent way of speaking when compared to other dialects. “Flavor” makes us see that Mainstream English is just one flavor of English just like Chicano English or African American English or English with a French accent … just one flavor among many.
I was raised speaking Mainstream American English and then became socialized in college to speak African American English…and now that I’m in school again, I’m being socialized to speak “academic-ese” (not sure how far I’ll get), but…I love all the flavors I speak! And the flavors my students speak…So, what flavors of English* do you speak?
*I say “English”, but it could be any language.
”The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you: they are unique manifestations of the human spirit. ”
– Wade Davis
Are you looking to start a conversation with someone about AAE or another flavor of English and you don't know where to begin? Download my free resource Flavors of English to make the conversation about communication easier.