School marms

A recent post from a native speaker of Spanish appeared on one of the Lists. In it, she declared that the “v? and “b? of the Spanish alphabet do have different, distinct pronunciations. This is, of course, to anyone who knows anything about the Spanish language, nonsense.

So how does someone go counter to not only her own intuition about her native language but also against all scholarly, academic knowledge about the language? Authoritarianism, that’s how.

The reliance on authority, as we have seen recently in our own country, is a road….. a “slippery slope”, if you will….. to dependence, conformity, learned helplessness, and a host of other social maladies (I don’t mean STDs here). This person displays her attitude in the following lines:

“However, native spanish speakers make mistakes too, and B or V is the most

>common one.”

Here she sets us up by labeling right away this a “most common mistake,? disarming any thought that if the majority of people pronounce it this way, we might want to consider that the….. common pronunciation maybe?


“Many people don’t even know the pronounciation difference, they may

not have paid attention in elementary school!”

Here she reinforces the notion that we cannot pay attention to such dolts as those who didn’t pay attention in school.


“What scares me is that some textbooks in the US say that there is no

>difference at all!!! When students and teachers see that in a

>textbook it

>is very hard to get them to believe otherwise. Believe me, they are

>supposed to be different.”

So what she learned in country X is the right way and what “some? (surely all) textbooks in the U.S. teach is wrong. Based on what? AUTHORITY, that’s what. In this case, her borrowed authority which she has made unassailable by putting anyone who disagrees with her in the camp of those who didn’t pay attention in elementary school and pigheadedly continue to make this common mistake.

Her final appeal to authority is, “Believe me.” I think not.

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