Composition Reading Bank: Language

An Open Educational Resource for Composition Courses

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Ashford, Alex. "'Da Souf Got Sum To Say': On The Willful Mistranslation Of Andre 3000’s Famous Line"  infoAshford discusses how Andre 3000's speech at The Source Awards in 1995 was translated in the press from regionalized Black Southern English to "standard" English. Ashford argues that the translation of the language is a form of linguistic intellectual violence that has long been used when examining Black art forms. (Third-Person Perspective; Expository; Persuasive)

Barta, Kellam. "No Such Thing as Correct English" [YouTube Video]  infoBarta, a sociolinguist, describes a variety of variations in the English language, including regional dialects, features of African American Vernacular English, and the speech practice of "vocal fry." Barta points out how conceptions about "correct" English are often incorrect and can even lead to significant issues like discrimination and sexism. (First-Person Perspective; Expository; Argument)

Bolina, Jaswinder. "Writing Like a White Guy: On Language, Race, and Poetry"  infoBolina reflects on the relationship between language and race in America. (First- and Third-Person Perspective; Expository; Profile)

Encinas, Jorge. "How Latino Players Are Helping Major League Baseball Learn Spanish"  infoEncinas argues for the importance of Major League Baseball improving players’ “language services and cultural acclimation” as well as the importance of the press more accurately interviewing and reporting on what Spanish-speaking players say and mean. (Third-Person Perspective; Expository; Persuasive)

Gay, Roxane. "The Careless Language of Sexual Violence" Warning: Explicit Content  info Gay argues that the way rape is covered in the press, portrayed on television, and euphemized in language has created a "rape culture" in America. (First- and Third-Person Perspective; Expository; Persuasive)

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von. "Aphorisms on Nature"  infoThomas Huxley translated these aphorisms, which were either written or inspired by Goethe, a 19th century poet and scientist (there is debate on the authorship). In these aphorisms, nature is personified as a woman, as a mother, and the meditation is on the relationship between Nature and humankind. These were printed in the first issue of the journal Nature, in 1869. (First- and Third-Person Perspective; Aphorisms)

Goetz, Thomas. "Harnessing the Power of Feedback Loops"  infoGoetz presents a research-based analysis of how feedback loops (“action, information, reaction”) can be more effective at changing behaviors than threats or punishments. (Third-Person Perspective; Expository; Persuasive)

"How Microaggressions Are Like Mosquito Bites" [YouTube Video]  infoThis video dramatizes the damage that microaggressions can cause for people. (Second- and Third-Person Perspective; Expository; Video)

Ifould, Rosie. "'Would You Be Willing?': Words to Turn a Conversation Around (and Those to Avoid)"  infoIfould reports on an academic study that looked at how word choice can help, or hinder, social interactions. (First- and Second-Person Perspective; Expository)

Lilienfeld, Scott O. "Why a Moratorium on Microaggressions Policies is Needed"  infoPortions of this article come from the book Microagressions: Strong Claims, Inadequate Evidence. Lilienfeld challenges the use of the term "microagressions," calling upon a more thoughtful application of it. (Third-Person Perspective; Expository)

McRaney, David. "The Backfire Effect"  infoMcRaney describes how the "backfire effect" enforces entrenched false beliefs especially when contradictory evidence is encountered. (Second- and Third-Person Perspective; Expository)

McWhorter, John. "Thick of Tongue"  infoAs an African American that has been repeatedly told he "sounds white," McWhorter explores in the essay why/if there is a "black sound" and a "white sound" and how those ideas have been culturally and societally perpetuated. (First-, Second-, and Third-Person Perspective; Expository)

McWhorter, John. "Txtng is Killing Language. JK!!!" [TED Talk]  infoMcWhorter discusses how language and the way we write have always been changing, and texting may actually be something incredible, a new type of written speech. (First-, Second-, and Third-Person Perspective; Expository; Persuasive; TED Talk)

Pratt, Kira Marie. "Why We Need to Get in 'Formation': The Rhetoric of Beyonce"  infoPratt connects an analysis of Beyonce's Lemonade visual album to the rhetoric of racial justice and equality especially Black Lives Matter. (Third-Person Perspective; Persuasive)

"Random House Copy Chief: Stand Tall, Wordsmiths! (But Choose Your Battles)" [Text + Audio]  infoTerry Gross, host of NPR’s Fresh Air, interviews Random House’s copy chief Benjamin Dreyer. He talks about his focuses and philosophies as a professional copy editor. (First- and Third-Person Perspective; Interview Highlights)

Rauch, Jonathan. "In Defense of Prejudice"  infoRauch presents a defense for free speech, even when it is unpleasant and/or offensive to others. (First-, Second-, and Third-Person Perspective; Persuasive)

Rice, Patricia. "Linguistic Profiling: The Sound of Your Voice May Determine Whether You Get That Apartment or Not"  infoRice provides an introduction to linguist John Baugh's research on linguistic profiling with attention to how race and socioeconomic discrimination intersect, especially in multicultural and multilingual nations like the United States. (Third-Person Perspective; Expository; Analysis; Research)

Smith, Ernie. "They Should Stop: In Defense of the Singular They"  infoSmith defends the use of the plural pronoun "they" being used as a singular subject in place of "he or she." He examines its use in literature, linguistics, and copy editing. (Third-Person Perspective; Expository; Persuasive)

Tseng, Amelia. "‘You Are What You Speak’… or Are You?"  infoTseng describes the connections between immigration, migration, and language. She shares real world examples and surprising insights into how languages change and are shared as people move between cultures and communities. (Third-Person Perspective; Expository; Analysis)


Except where otherwise indicated, the Composition Reading Bank by Rachel Brooks-Pannell, Shawn Casey, Rebecca Fleming, and Nick Lakostik at Columbus State Community College is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. This license does not extend to the contents of external web pages.


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