A Whole New World (of Literature)

As I was reading James Paul Gee’s chapter on Social Linguistics and Literacies, my eyes were open to a whole new world of literature. For starters, I have never heard of the field called, “the New Literacy Studies.”  I guess it is called “new” because it is a new field of study that has emerged. My perspective on what language is also began to transform and I dug deeper into the text. Gee explains that “language” can be a misleading term: and we are often under the impression that it means grammar and specific “rules” we must follow in order to keep the structure of a language. This really altered my opinion because I have always believed that in communication, it is essential to speak grammatically correct. In the article, he emphasizes that saying the “right” thing at the “right” time and in the “right” place is what truly matters. I was truly amazed at the example he used, when he compared the two different women in their job interviews. I can’t believe that that even though the second woman was considered the “success case,” she did not completely ace the interview herself. Her grammar was generally correct and she was using it in the right way, however, Gee says, “she was expressing the wrong values.” As he further explains his reasoning behind believing so, he points out that she contradicts herself several times throughout the interview. That was something that I did not even pay attention to as she was answering the questions because I was so intrigued by her eloquence and correct use of grammar. I realized first hand that language is not necessarily as important as the combinations of “saying-doing-being-valuing-and-believing” all together.

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