Part 1: (150 words) Imagine that you are unable to attend complete an assignment because of a family emergency. Write an email to a friend telling him or her about the entire incident and why you will not be able to do your work. Relate the incident in the casual register, using simple words, slang, jargon or dialect—the “insider” language you speak among friends and the type of language McWhorter discusses in the video above. If you speak English as a second language, you might mix your two languages even to the extent of using a few made-up or combination words. Let your sentences be incomplete, your grammar incorrect, your word choice colorful or even mildly offensive. Just make it sound like you might really write this way to your friend. In other words, keep it real.
Part 2: (150 words) Using the same story you related above, now rewrite the incident as an email to your instructor in the formal register. Your goal in this email is to maintain credibility with your instructor while asking for her to accept your excuse. This means you must carefully decide which details of the story you include and which details you omit. Remember, communicating with your instructor should be done in the formal register only, and you should use the conventions of professional communication. You will also need to include your name, student ID number, and course and section number, just as if you were sending a “real” email message.  Click here to read a little about how to write a professional email message.

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