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LANGUAGE AND SOCIAL STATUS IN AMA ATA AIDOO

Geoffrey M. Ridden
Style
Vol. 8, No. 3, Politics and Style (Fall 1974), pp. 452-461
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42945220
Page Count: 10
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
LANGUAGE AND SOCIAL STATUS IN AMA ATA AIDOO
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Abstract

English has the capacity not only to convey information but also to indicate the social relationship between addresser and addressee. In Ama Ata Aidoo's short story "For Whom Things Did Not Change" (1970), the servant Zirigu is unsure of his relationship with his fellow-Ghanian visitor, Kobbina, a doctor, and Zirigu's English reflects this insecurity. Although he is capable of speaking "standard English," he adopts a sub-standard variety in his early conversations with Kobbina, which he abandons only when he is convinced by Kobbina's egalitarianism. Furthermore, it is clear from a comparison of the grammar of Zirigu's two varieties of English that the one is no more complex than the other, but merely more consistent in the application of syntactic rules. Parallel cases of servants deliberately debasing their English occur in Steinbeck's East of Eden and V. S. Naipaul's "One out of Many" (1973).

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