Amy’s father John, has sent me a comment via email to my post Asinine.
I’ve decided to give it it’s own post in order to highlight the unquestionable volume of Awesomeitude present in the text.
I would attempt to come up with some sort of rebuttal, but I don’t think I could match the following in either length or eloquence.
Hi Jason. With respect … (politicians say this when they are about to totally disagree with what you say) I take a very different point of view of the English language. My view is that, yes, the English language is indeed a wonderful and remarkable beast .. but for a number of reasons separate from any focus on “good grammar, spelling or useage”. The extraordinary feature of English is its anarchic freedom.
1. There are many “Englishes”. Throughout the world a multitude of people .. from nations, races, cultures, sub-cultures, special interest groups and industry/occupation groups have taken the beast and modified,personalised, mutated, added to, invented and reinvented small or large parts of the language to produce quite separate and unique derivations. Carribean,New York, Irish,Computer,Scientific, ghetto,rap, sporting to name a few. Insiders to each English view their English as natural and understandable. Outsiders sometimes just shrug their shoulders and admit “no understand”. Noteably, in the home of English, each town and region of England has its own distinct style, grammar, common words and accents. The “Queen’s English” is rarely heard on the street. Even in the media, various distinct variations can be observed as one jumps from TV to radio to newspaper, to blogs etc.
2. Because of its place in history, English has been adopted as the universal language (bad luck Frenchies) and so has been taken on as the starting point for describing huge human advances such as the computing, science and industrial world. So, the enormous expansion of words and concepts which has accompanied these exponentially growing human endeavors have been mainly in English, to the detriment and fossilisation of other languages. The English of today is vastly bigger and different to what it was a few decades ago.
3. That aside, it is said that the day-to-day vocabulary used by the average person is limited to about 600 words. So the vast store of words in the total human dictionary is relatively irrelevant to most people.
4. English is forever changing. Read a book from 50 or 100 years ago and the experience can be uncomfortable … .. the grammar stilted, the words strange and era-specific. Go back to literature from 300 years ago and you can hardly understand it. Go back 800 years and it is barely recognisable. English is in a constant state of rampant change. The human experience is always changing. How humans view themselves and their world is always changing. So the words and grammar has to change too.
5. The “correctness” of English is a mythology. The publishers of dictionaries claim that the dictionary is “descriptive”, not “proscriptive” .. ie. at any point in history the dictionary describes the way the language is being used, not how it “should be”. I often hear callers to talk-back radio complaining loudly about how such and such a word is misused, or lamenting the loss of certain aspects of the language. They miss the point. I would term them “language Luddites”.
6. The beauty of “correct” language is a myth. As language is time and function specific, the correctness or attractiveness of a given selection of English is directly relevant to its area of application. For instance, I recently made some comments on an IT forum and was accused of using language fitting of “an employee of a penis-enlargement factory”. The rude replier didn’t appreciate that one could view software in terms of its relationship to lifestyle and freedom. He clearly expected contributors to that forum to discuss issues in language specific to programming etc.
Poets are viewed as the angels of language. But try to read modern poetry. Either one gets totally lost or one struggles to follow the words, meanings or grammar, So are the poets wrong.. is their abandonment of grammar and vocabulary a big mistake.. or are they in fact, celebrating the inventiveness and joy of an anarchic medium. Perhaps poets are just playing with speeding up the process and challenging us to perform language change and invention in areas remote from the “cultural changes” which are happening around us day by day anyway.
7. For me I celebrate English’s diversity and inventiveness. So I am fascinated by the emergence of texting language. If Shakespeare was alive today he might text his friends such propositions as …. “2B or not 2B ??” …. they might text back “KK gd1 S”
Playing WOW … the dexterity and functionality of abbreviated English is necessary to the game. When your health is at 20% and mana at zero and cool down on evocation has 2 minutes to run, mana shield is down and the boss in UBG is hitting you with a spell with a crit certainty of 80%, try asking politely for assistance in traditional words and grammar. Because I can’t remember the abbr. I die. So I watch the pros do their thing and wonder and marvel at the correctness and, yes, beauty of their new dextrous language. They survive. I res. …. John
Also, “Anarchic Freedom” is now my new favourite phrase.