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Rotten English: A Literary Anthology

4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  99 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
"Rotten English" spans the globe to offer an overview of the best non-standard English writing of the past two centuries, with a focus on the most recent decades. During the last twelve years, half of the Man Booker awards went to novels written in non-standard English. What would once have been derogatorily termed "dialect literature" has come into its own in a language k ...more
Paperback, 544 pages
Published June 17th 2007 by W. W. Norton Company (first published June 1st 2007)
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Dec 23, 2012 Markland rated it really liked it
If you have ever felt less than because your English is flawed, read this to realize how much what we perceive as standard English is simply another dialect codified and enforced on non-native speakers as a tool of imperialism and domination. As a Caribbean born man, it was a pleasure to see my native tongue and its variations given central status on the page. I haven't been the same as a writer since then.
Feb 04, 2011 Jennifer rated it really liked it
A really interesting collection. I have been turned on to many new authors and their works by reading this. I love how unique each voice is, and how this book celebrates the uniqueness and power of language.
Jul 27, 2010 Amanda rated it it was amazing
This is a great post-colonial anthology. It uses the English language as its lens, revealing the oppression and cultural metamorphosis that societies who are the victims of imperialism undergo. Language, here, is also a battleground. Countries from around the world are represented here as they take English, the most prominent symbol of their oppression, and they change it, molding it into something different that they can claim. Also, the idea of "rotten English" with its non-compliance to stand ...more
Jan 12, 2014 Joe rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, teaching, poetry
An excellent collection of pieces written in different nonstandard vernaculars of English—African American, Carribean, Scottish, mestiza, and many others. A nice historical range as well from Twain and Kipling to the present.

My one quibble: It seems to me that the impact of many of the pieces has more to do with what they are about than how they are written. But even still, the volume showcases a wide variety of alt-voices.
Mar 10, 2012 Mary rated it it was amazing
Got into this because of past avoidance of dialects.
Thought this might be just a joke, but it's not. Terrific
anthology, fascinating excerpts, very good analysis of
evolving language. The title is from a comment by Nigerian
novelist Ken Saro-Wiwa. Part of the point of it all is summed
up in this quote: "Who is to say that robbing a people of its
language is less violent than war?"
Jul 13, 2010 Lisa rated it it was amazing
This is my dream anthology: vernacular English poetry, stories and essays from around the world. Brilliant! Combines Robert Burns, Zora Neale Hurston, Junot Díaz, and the essay that helped launch my thesis, "The Absence of Writing (Or How I Almost Became a Spy)" by M. NourbeSe Philip. A delicious read for postcolonialists everywhere.
Marc Manley
I appreciated the theme of the book, if not always the content itself. It does open up an important conversation about the concept of what is and is not "proper English" and the extent to which people have control and agency over their use of language.
Jan 26, 2009 Alexandra rated it really liked it
Shelves: school
I always enjoyed reading the mole-speech in Brian Jaques Redwall series. I never knew there was a whole category classifying this style of writing, and Rotten English has completely open my eyes to it.

Original and pure.
Sep 30, 2008 Danica added it
did anyone else know that The Brief Wondeous Life of Oscar Wao was a short story before it turned into a novel? It's in here.

So much vernacular, it's hard not to read it out loud in accents, as so much is written phonetically. Fun fun fun, and maddening on train rides for that reason.
Sep 06, 2013 Joani rated it really liked it
As a Caribbean woman who speaks and writes "proper English," this book was of particular interest to me. It did not disappoint. An eye opener for some; a refreshing look at lingustic history and its variances for others.
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Oct 28, 2014 Nathan "N.R." Gaddis marked it as i-want-money
Shelves: criticism, 0-tvb-w
Can it be treu that Tutuola's rotten english ain't hereincluded? Naja....

Here's a thing maybe ::

[for the record, I'm still a staunch believer in Correct=English.]
Danielle Lee
Aug 09, 2011 Danielle Lee rated it really liked it
A must read.
Jonathan Pierce
Dec 11, 2010 Jonathan Pierce rated it it was amazing
A cool guide to english creole language writers.
Jun 22, 2007 Michele rated it it was amazing
an important book and one i'm excited to discuss
Liz rated it it was amazing
Aug 28, 2007
Katrina rated it really liked it
Apr 19, 2011
Liz Wager
Liz Wager rated it it was ok
Aug 02, 2011
Shannon Schultheis
Shannon Schultheis rated it liked it
Dec 24, 2014
Elise rated it it was amazing
Oct 26, 2013
Karisa Koontz
Karisa Koontz rated it really liked it
Sep 19, 2016
Kate rated it it was amazing
Dec 18, 2008
Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez
Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez rated it it was amazing
Sep 10, 2015
Amanda Kettles
Amanda Kettles rated it it was ok
Jul 09, 2017
Marisa rated it it was amazing
Nov 03, 2008
Jamila rated it really liked it
May 28, 2013
Shannon rated it really liked it
Oct 24, 2012
Mark Sellers
Mark Sellers rated it really liked it
Oct 16, 2012
Rose rated it it was amazing
Jun 27, 2012
Teresa Pratt
Aug 05, 2010 Teresa Pratt rated it really liked it
Shelves: linguistics
I'd love to read this with other linguists :)
Terral rated it it was amazing
Nov 18, 2013
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