Even today, the majority of people in poor countries learn all their language skills without any paid tutorship, without any attempt whatsoever to teach them how to speak. And they learn to speak in a way that nowhere compares with the self-conscious, self-important, colorless mumbling that, after a long stay in villages in South America and Southeast Asia, always shocks me when I visit an American college. I feel sorrow for those students whom education has made tone deaf; they have lost the faculty of hearing the difference between the desiccated utterance of standard television English and the living speech of the unschooled. What else can I expect, though, from people who are not brought up at a mother’s breast, but on formula? On canned milk, if they are from poor families, and on a brew prepared under the nose of Ralph Nader if they are born among the enlightened?
—Ivan Illich, ‘The War Against Subsistence’ (in Shadow Work, p. 66)