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Doing Our Own Thing: The Degradation of Language and Music and Why We Should, Like, Care

Tuesday January 2004

Acclaimed linguist John McWhorter has devoted his career to exploring the evolution of language. He has often argued that language change is inevitable and, in general, culturally neutral.

But in his provocative new book, Doing Our Own Thing, John McWhorter draws the line when it comes to how cultural change is turning the English language upside down in America today, and how public English is being overwhelmed by street English, with serious consequences for our writing, our music, and our society. His book explores the triumph of casual over formal speech – particularly since the dawn of the 1960’s counterculture – and its effect on Americans’ ability to write, read, critique, argue, and imagine.