Rotten English

Jess deCourcy Hinds at Small Sprial Notebook:


Rotten English is the freshest anthology you’ll pluck off the shelves this summer. There’s simply no other book like it. A collection of two centuries of world literature, each page snaps with flavor and color. So why is it considered “rotten”? Because this vernacular writing breaks grammatical rules and alters spelling to capture the nuances of pronunciation. Here, you’ll find Langston Hughes, Rudyard Kipling, Amy Tan, and many lesser-known but equally compelling voices that demonstrate the boldness of vernacular writing—artistically and politically.

“If Black English Isn’t Language, What Is?”, the title of a James Baldwin essay in this collection, sums up the message of this book. Just substitute the word “black” with other nationalities included here. In other words, if these Pakistani, Chinese, Chicano, New Zealander, and Jamaican vernacular Englishes aren’t worthy, then what is?