On Linguistic Rebellion

After having read Josette LeBlanc' post Linguistic Rebellion, I gathered I had nothing to share related to the topic. I'm not a rebel after all; I've never done anything truly rebellious. Well, my mother says that I once (I was just coming of age) seriously rebelled against her authority, but that's all I can think of. But this challenge seemed too interesting not to take it up. I'm not a rebel but when something captures my attention, I'm bound and determined to go for it, no matter the effort. So I there must be something I can recall ................... Damn it! No, there's nothing I can come up with. Sorry.

Nonetheless, I'm a witness to a serious type of rebellion on a daily basis and that is when L2 learners rebel against important authority figures (English teachers) and the authority of English grammar. Luckily for me, they use various non-violent methods of rebellion; such as refusing to follow the rules I've taught them (so laboriously). Here are a few examples: on purpose and repeatedly, they omit the -s ending in the third person singular verbs. They purposely forget to use the auxiliaries do, does and did in questions. They deliberately use the past tense where the present perfect is appropriate. What's more, they intentionally add -ed to verbs which are clearly irregular. They keep using totally inappropriate prepositions, such as look on the picture. Why on earth do they do it? Out of spite? For a cause? Is it the need for independence and a separate identity? Are they just testing authority? Are they showing off? Is it part of their growing up?

It's no secret that all of them go through similar phases and the truth is that they soon become fed up with this kind of 'rebellion'. By now the reader has undoubtedly discovered that I'm just teasing them (as you might have noticed, I've just put the word rebellion in inverted commas for the first time in this post, just in case .. I don't want to discredit my reputation). Anyway, I have no doubt that we all are familiar with the term interlanguage. However, there are still teachers who truly believe that learners make mistakes on purpose, intentionally, deliberately, out of spite ... or simply because they are not paying attention (at best) or because they are not clever enough (at worst).

To conclude, I'm utterly convinced that any kind of non-violent rebellion (conscious or inadvertent) is desirable at some stage of development. It's even inevitable. In language learning or acquisition it's even more obvious - we need to do things in a wrong way in order to realize what the right way is. So, let's be tolerant and patient with our little rebels; they'll grow out of it. :-)