Idiolect: Not Just for Idiots

another way to say personal linguistic quirks

Idiolect?  I honestly did not know that I had one.  It never even occurred to me that I might.   I mean, I have been to other countries, and I always enjoy people who speak differently from me, but I have been idiocentric about my speech. I assumed that only American populations on the fringes of the main population had a dialect of Standard American English that was different from my own; most specifically Southerners and New Englanders.  And yes, there are other variations , such as African-American Vernacular, but I always thought of African-American Vernacular as its own language—not so much a dialect.  I guess you could say that I have somehow managed to convince myself that I am the perfect example of Standard American English, and that every other dialect is a variance of my own.

But then I got to thinking about it. First of all, where, oh where, did I get the idea that Standard American English is the international ideal that all other language groups aspire to?  Is it because English is the international business language? If so, who is to say that Standard American English is the internationally accepted business English dialect? (Some say it’s Oxford—oh say it’s not true!)  And even then, business English is only universal to international businesses, so what makes it right in Chicago neighborhoods, greater Illinois, or anywhere else in the United States? Continue reading