TRUE THINGS ABOUT PROPHECY: LANGUAGE IS POWER

What is prophecy but language that compels, propels, impels… I think they call this perlocutionary speech, but someone who will know is Prof. Warda:

Spring 2009, she teaches her first Intro to Sociolinguistics. She is delighted to see brown and black faces, as well as white — sometimes it feels to her, at Middlestate, like she is suffocating. But not here, not in this class. There are nineteen kids all counted; they talk about language variants, they talk about standardization. She sees some students breathe out in relief when she says, your Englishes are not wrong or ugly. Mine, neither, she says; immigrant Englishes are neither wrong nor ugly. Some students purse their lips, but she knows by the end of the class they too will get it. There’s nothing truly superior about speaking one variant over the other. Those in power make the rules and police them; those in power call their own speech good and pure, and the rest of us must scramble and aspire.

We did contact Prof. Warda (c/o ROSE LEMBERG and The Shapes of Us, Translucent to Your Eye) for her opinion on Lucia Lucilla and the Prophecy, but unfortunately she was too busy to get back to us. She suggested we should get in touch with the editor of Language in Society, so we might try that next.

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