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David Crystal, in an article called Little Need to Worry, said "I've never counted just how many non-standard constructions of the type "we was" and "ain't" there are, but I would be surprised if the figure were more than 100".

How many do you think there are? Is there a really major difference between so called Standard English and so called Non-Standard English?
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Well, in my dialect, constructions such as "we was", or "ain't" are simply incorrect. Nobody around here would ever use them. They are simply not part of the dialect, no matter what level of education the person has, or social class. "Standard" vs "non-standard" is more about prescriptivism than descriptivism, and if you compiled a descriptive grammar of this area, "we was" and "ain't" would not be found.
First, we need to know how many items there are in the set {constructions}, of which {non-standard constructions} is presumably a subset.

The figure "100" is meaningless, otherwise.

MrP
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MrPedanticFirst, we need to know how many items there are in the set {constructions}, of which {non-standard constructions} is presumably a subset.

The figure "100" is meaningless, otherwise.

MrP

Just think about all the ones that are continually labeled as non-standard, day after day, on this forum and maybe we can begin the topic discussion.
< "Standard" vs "non-standard" is more about prescriptivism than descriptivism, >

That is often the case with presciptivists, yes. So, to the prescriptivist who rant on about the importance of using only Standard forms, can we ask them to identify just how many non-standard forms separate their idea of Standard English and Non-Standard English?
I suppose that the issue is that even if there are not that many differences between standard and non-standard English, many non-standard forms are considered to be a sign of lack of education, and that can have an effect on people's job prospects for example, or the type of treatment they may receive from others. They may be more readily forgiven in a native speaker whose accent shows that a non-standard form is standard for their dialect/area, but a non-native using non-standard forms may have a few additional problems. If they should find themselves living in situation where non-standard forms are actually the standard, it's quite simple to pick them up if they want, whereas if you learn them in the first place as your 'base' English you might find them hard to shake off if you find yourself living in a situation where they are causing you problems.

I think very few people speak 100% standard English. There are always a few area/dialect/class variations. However, that is then the natural language for that environment. To deliberately learn a random 'non-standard' English, possibly with elements from different areas/dialects/classes, seems a little foolish. Fine if you know you are going to be in the environment where that version is 'standard' but that's awfully hard for an overseas learner to predict.

It is also a very good idea to know both the local non-standard variations and standard English, as you might move location, or go for a job where standard English is pretty much required (even if it isn't spelled out on the application form, there are plenty of jobs where you won't have a chance if you don't speak in the correct way).
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<I suppose that the issue is that even if there are not that many differences between standard and non-standard English, many non-standard forms are considered to be a sign of lack of education, and that can have an effect on people's job prospects for example, or the type of treatment they may receive from others. >

In my experience, the same can be said of those who do not know such non-standard forms or refuse to use them. In some, probably a great majority, of situations, it pays to be able to use such forms or to be a good code-switcher.

<I think very few people speak 100% standard English. >

Normally, only NNES do so. I've never mett a NES who does so, even though many would like us to think they do.

<Fine if you know you are going to be in the environment where that version is 'standard' but that's awfully hard for an overseas learner to predict. >

You know that if you use "ain't", you can get by in many, many contexts.
I hear many commentators, both here on this forum and elsehwere, warning students about learning or and/or using non-standard English, but what do those teachers mean by that? Just how many forms should I avoid or not learn?
Hmmm, yes I'd agree with you generally on your comments above Milky but I strongly disagree that 'ain't' is acceptable in many contexts. In British English, at least, it is considered one of the main pointers towards 'uneducated/lower-lower class'.
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