Teaching a native tongue should serve one purpose, and that is to help communication. It should basically say, “here, these words you are using within your group? Well, other groups pronounce them differently, but here are some rules they all seem to follow, so learning them helps you communicate better with more people.” It takes effort, however, to keep up with what those guidelines for modern common denominators are and how language is evolving, so many choose the rules they learned, bemoan how kids can’t talk, and soon are yelling at them to get off of their lawn.
I blame Richelieu, and the Academie Française that he founded. It became a model for the other European rulers to enforce purity and One True Language.
English is a wonderful, ever-adapting language. Globish should easily allow for local language continuance while enabling the commercial (and usually cursing) uses of English as well.
Favourite Shakespearian word: elbow
Releasing ourselves from the stodginess of so-called proper English, and understanding the natural fluidity – the cromulence of language, would indeed embiggen all of us.
I personally feel that while you can take a lot of liberties with language, as soon as the meaning of the words being communicated is obfuscated, you’ve lost your way.
Yannaa what I mean mush innit? You’re bare muggin me off blood, I’m gonna snap and go on rags innit.
Why does everything need to be a SJW cause? I agree with what you’re saying and I love seeing “malapropism” used but why was the jab at my white guilt necessary?
And using ten-dollar words when a 20 cent one would work just as well is just as good, if not better at hiding the meaning as using slang.
There’s time that precision in language matters. Most of the time though, not so much.
The problem is that if you don’t agree on a certain amount of standardisation, a language will branch into mutually unintelligible dialects: see Afrikaans/Dutch.
I strive to be the very antithesis of verbosity.
Well I generally prefer the term “formal English” rather than "“standard English” or worse, “proper English” because it DOESN’T imply any sort of moral superiority. No more than a three piece wool suit is always more appropriate than a bathing suit. But just just like a nice suit, it is far better to speak standard English in a job interview. And yes, it definitely IS a class marker masquerading as a sign of intelligence. But that is the world we live in. And it is the world educators are trying to ready their kids for. Growing up in a household that speaks something that approximates formal English around the dinner table is a huge advantage. And helping those who DIDN’T is one of the things we pay teachers to do. .
If you are into this sort of thing I can thoroughly recommend the book “The Unfolding of Language” which looks at how language has developed over time.
There’s a quote in there from Roman times (probably Cicero) lamenting the corruption of latin from it’s earlier roots when there were more cases (I think that’s the right term) than there were at his time.
All languages are in constant flux, with words and phrases changing meaning, entire new structures coming into existence, and other ones disappearing. If it wasn’t for this continuous change we’d still be grunting at each other.
It always makes me smile when people proclaim “I am speaking the language of Shakespeare”. The Bard would never have used that phrase himself. The continuous/progressive tenses hadn’t developed at that point, English was more like it’s germanic roots.
I LOVE this essay from Stephen Fry about language -
There are all kinds of pedants around with more time to read and imitate Lynne Truss and John Humphrys than to write poems, love-letters, novels and stories it seems. They whip out their Sharpies and take away and add apostrophes from public signs, shake their heads at prepositions which end sentences and mutter at split infinitives and misspellings, but do they bubble and froth and slobber and cream with joy at language? Do they ever let the tripping of the tips of their tongues against the tops of their teeth transport them to giddy euphoric bliss? Do they ever yoke impossible words together for the sound-sex of it? Do they use language to seduce, charm, excite, please, affirm and tickle those they talk to? Do they? I doubt it. They’re too farting busy sneering at a greengrocer’s less than perfect use of the apostrophe. Well sod them to Hades. They think they’re guardians of language. They’re no more guardians of language than the Kennel Club is the guardian of dogkind.
I wonder if Cory’s books are proofread, and the grammar corrected if necessary.
And yes, language should be free to be fluid and unfettered informally, but where it’s needed, the sciences in particular, formal English is essential.
In response to his many questions, I believe I speak on behalf of many pedants when I answer yes, yes and yes again. And enjoy his precise use of grammar also.
It’s not a question of superiority or intellect or being sneering guardians of the mother tongue. it’s a teeny, tiny stone in our shoe that needs shaking out. that’s all.
This, I think, is what I’ve been trying to explain to friends of mine for years.
Backstory - I’m Welsh, a native Welsh speaker and I moved to within an hour’s drive of London to live with my English girlfriend about 8 years ago.
As you can imagine, a lot of my English friends from around this area (Berkshire) are sticklers for “proper” English… But the hypocrisy and snooty-nosed jibes over the rules and regulations of grammar come thick and fast.
One of my friends in particular is horrifyingly shoddy at writing emails. “There”, “their” and “they’re” seem to be interchangeable for him, and these mistakes are always defended with “well if you understood what I said then it’s ok, isn’t it?”. I’m talking formal work emails here, by the way, not just personal communications.
On the other hand I’ll say “pardon me” when I sneeze or want to walk past, and he’ll correct me by saying “It’s excuse me”, as an example…
Now I’m not too sure what my point actually is, but it’s just an example of the “I’m English, and this is what English should be - but I can write what I want when I want because - meh”…
Oh, and don’t get me started on the stick I get for being Welsh, or the mispronunciations of my own language (or the frequent requests to say “that place name, y’know, the Clanvar-something-something, the really long one!”)…
what was it called before? Arm joint?
Well, it’s all about class, innit? A way to differentiate us vs them.
Like most things I think because of the heap problem (or Ship of Tarsus), it’s impossible to draw the line in a way that doesn’t seem arbitrary. We don’t go around (in the USA) work sounding like Professors or BBC people, but the point at which there’s too much non-formal english being used is hard to point to. Like beards at work. Clean-shaven is always considered the standard. But a beard tends to be accepted at work until you look like a mountain man. But where is that line? Just how long is too long? Hard to pinpoint.
Why do you feel the need to ascribe a cause to SJW-ism?
As to “white guilt”, it is an easily observable fact that the traditional ruling class of this country is entirely white, and even the wider Establishment is nearly so, whereas the non-white population of the country is concentrated towards the opposite social pole. Acknowledging a fact is not a cause in itself, whereas ignoring it implicitly supports the status quo. Complaining when someone states the fact is an outright explicit support of the SQ.
The “guilt”, such as it is, is entirely in your reading. What do you have to feel guilty about?
The other problem is that if there is one prestige dialect, there’s pressure on the speakers of other dialects to imitate it, and there’s this tendency of the speakers of the prestige dialect to change it to make it harder to imitate.
That way leads to Recieved Pronunciation.
Let’s go for either: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varus_deformity#Terminology or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elbow#Society_and_culture are quick sources in the evolution of English to let Shakespeare make this a lot more popular.