Ways with Words

TitleWays with Words: Language, Life and Work in Communities and Classrooms
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1983
AuthorHeath, Shirley Brice
Number of Pages426
PublisherCambridge University Press
CityNew York
Publication Languageeng
ISBN or ASIN Number2147483647
Copies at the Archive1
Ways with Words is a class study of children learning to use language at home and at school in two communities only a few miles apart in the south-eastern United States. "Roadville" is a white working-class community of families, steeped for generations in the life of textile mills. "Trackton" is a black working-class community whose older generations grew up farming the land bu whose current members work in the mills. In tracing the children's language developemnt the author shows the deep cultural differences between the two communities, whose ways with words differ as strikingly from each other as either does from the pattern of the townspeople, the "mainstream" blakcs and whites who hold power in the schools and workplaces of the region. Employing the combined skils of ethnographer, social historian, and teacher, the author raises fundamental questions about the nature of language development, the effects of literacy on oral language habits, and the sources of communication problems in schools and workplaces.

Shirley Brice Heath has now added a new epilogue that describes changes in the communities since the work's first publication and assesses its continuing relevance for social scientists and educators, as well as to anyone interested in human communication and differences between social groups.