Standard Bad English

Maybe it’s just me, but somehow less-educated people all over North America seem to speak the same version of English, SBE for Standard Bad English. It’s identified by some common terms.

  1. “seen” for “saw” and “come” for “came.” As in “Yeah, I seen him. He come around the corner there.” Now, watch the TV news. I am convinced that the field reporters go through eyewitnesses until they can get someone to say, “I seen.”
  2. Mismatching personal pronouns. SBE speakers are fine with “I am here” and “she is there” but can be relied on to say “him and me are going out” or “you can tell her and I” (oddly, no one seems to use “you can tell she and I”)
  3. Mangling words – but only certain ones: ascared, drownded, heighth, lenth, vunnerable (vulnerable), foofil (fulfil), …

I’ll add to this list over time.

Last Reviewed: 9 years