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Grammar Apocalypse

cupidmedia
Community Guru
Jennifer D Member Since: Feb 15, 2016
61 of 121

@Kat C wrote:

@Jennifer D wrote:

I think it must have been Kat C (although I don't remember to be sure, and I apologise if I'm incorrect) who introduced me here in the forum to the History of English podcast by Kevin Stroud. I've been listening to it non-stop on my commute ever since. It's really fascinating to see how English has developed and gleefully stolen from Old Norse, Norman French, and Latin to create itself.


I LOVE that podcast!!!

 

I have to pick it up and listen again. The wheels fell off my bus when the work storm hit me. I had the whole family listening to it...


 I *finally* caught up on the whole thing (it took me about 3 months, I have about an hour a day I listen to podcasts during my commute) and immediately went and supported him on Patreon. I've found it super interesting! I love learning how so many words are related, and how English is effectively a "time capsule" of changes in other languages, like French - depending on when a word entered English, it has different pronunciation. It also made a lot of English's spelling quirks make a lot more sense!

 

I saw someone elsewhere recently describe English like so: "English isn't a language, it's three languages stacked on top of each other wearing a trench coat" and I love that analogy so much.

 

I used to be a terrible grammar stickler but over time I've realised that the best thing about English is how adaptable and changing it is - that's the reason it's survived so long, after all. I also realised that I routinely shift my register dozens of times a day without even being conscious of it - my speech adapts to the speech of the person I'm conversing with easily. I think that's so fascinating.

colettelewis
Community Guru
Nichola L Member Since: Mar 13, 2015
62 of 121

 


@Jennifer D wrote:



 I *finally* caught up on the whole thing (it took me about 3 months, I have about an hour a day I listen to podcasts during my commute) and immediately went and supported him on Patreon. I've found it super interesting! I love learning how so many words are related, and how English is effectively a "time capsule" of changes in other languages, like French - depending on when a word entered English, it has different pronunciation. It also made a lot of English's spelling quirks make a lot more sense!

 

I saw someone elsewhere recently describe English like so: "English isn't a language, it's three languages stacked on top of each other wearing a trench coat" and I love that analogy so much.

 

I used to be a terrible grammar stickler but over time I've realised that the best thing about English is how adaptable and changing it is - that's the reason it's survived so long, after all. I also realised that I routinely shift my register dozens of times a day without even being conscious of it - my speech adapts to the speech of the person I'm conversing with easily. I think that's so fascinating.



Lol - a chameleonanglopterix!

researchediting
Community Guru
Douglas Michael M Member Since: May 22, 2015
63 of 121

@Nichola L wrote:

Lol - a chameleonanglopterix!


I'm guessing most of us use different levels of diction when we write in the forum vs. writing to clients (even if we take pains to ensure our forum posts are "correct"), or between newer and older clients, or in response to a given client's preferred register—all this apart from further differences in communicating with our intimates and other people in our offline lives. 

 

People raised biculturally, even within a single language, usually do a more extensive and radical version of this known as code switching.

c_clover
Ace Contributor
Christine C Member Since: Oct 7, 2015
64 of 121

Playing devil's advocate here...but language and usage do change and  what once might have been an "iron-clad rule" may not be so anymore. Many, many books are being written these days about letting go of old shibboleths regarding usage, and it's kind of a relief.

 

It may be shocking and painful to those of us who grew up in the era of those dedicated teachers who drilled us for hours on the proper use of English, but apparently you can now end a sentence with a preposition, split an infinitive, and EVEN SAY "It was nice of you to invite Harry and I" without blushing. 

 

Sorry, but it's happening, and the language WILL change in spite of our efforts to keep it "pure." I draw the line however at interchanging it's and its, as well as conflating there, their, and they're...And putting in or leaving out apostrophes at will...

 

Steven Pinker is about the best source these days for a common-sense view on what's happening with our (beloved) English language.

 

Nice to see old friends on here!

researchediting
Community Guru
Douglas Michael M Member Since: May 22, 2015
65 of 121

@Christine C wrote:

Playing devil's advocate here...but language and usage do change and  what once might have been an "iron-clad rule" may not be so anymore. Many, many books are being written these days about letting go of old shibboleths regarding usage, and it's kind of a relief.

 

It may be shocking and painful to those of us who grew up in the era of those dedicated teachers who drilled us for hours on the proper use of English, but apparently you can now end a sentence with a preposition, split an infinitive, and EVEN SAY "It was nice of you to invite Harry and I" without blushing... 

 


There's nothing "now" about ending a sentence with a preposition. Jane Austen, whose precision of expression, like that of her characters, can be breathtaking, did so. It was a nineteenth-century fusspot who decreed otherwise. It may have been the same fusspot who agonized misleadingly over "split" infinitives.

 

Pronouns are surprisingly protean. We've discarded the second person personal or intimate form common to European languages. Usages can also be surprisingly persistent, as in the "thank ye" still sometimes heard in rural areas near my home town. Caribbean English may use the standard nominative form to express objective case. In most of the rest of the English-speaking world, it still represents a debased genteelism—an attempt to sound "refined" that ends up sounding ignorant or awkward. (See Sarah Palin and her "It makes me ill" where the common usage is "...sick.") I grew up in an area where Schlitz beer was common; the waitresses (as we called them) at a certain restaurant pronounced it "Slits," which caused no end of amusement to the adolescent mind.

 

By the way, the confusion around pronoun case stems largely from some misguided prescriptive grammarians from Shakespeare's day who tried to shoehorn English grammar and spelling into those of Latin. As a result, we lost the stressed form of the personal pronoun, which happens to take the same form as the objective case: "It's me," still the most natural form to affirm one's presence or identity, was genteelized into "It is I." And they stuffed an "s" into island in a convoluted attempt to derive it from Latin insula, rather than accepting: What kind of land? I-land—from īeg- (watery) + land.

versailles
Community Guru
Rene K Member Since: Jul 10, 2014
66 of 121

Yes, the language is evolving, but there is a difference between a language that evolves and a language that gets defaced by laziness and ignorance of the basic rules that makes it a proper tool for communication.

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"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless
reinierb
Community Guru
Reinier B Member Since: Nov 3, 2015
67 of 121

@Rene K wrote:

Yes, the language is evolving, but there is a difference between a language that evolves and a language that gets defaced by laziness and ignorance of the basic rules that makes it a proper tool for communication.


 Rene makes an excellent point about people defacing languages. 

 

In my case, I have forbidden my children to send me text messages or messages via Whatsapp, simply because I cannot understand the language they use. If they want to talk to me and it cannot be face to face, I insist that they call me so that I have a reasonable opportunity to use the English language as an effective tool for communication.

mwiggenhorn
Community Guru
Mary W Member Since: Nov 10, 2014
68 of 121

In college, I needed to take a couple of summer school classes so that I could graduate a semester early.  I chose "Milton" (which was actually taught by a Greek and was wonderful) and "The Origin and HIstory of the English Language" which was the absolutely most difficult class I ever took (including a self-directed course on existential French literature in French).

 

It still boggles me to think about how language developed and continues to develop, especially now that everything is written down and memorialized.  Fascinating stuff, the little I understand.

 

(Side note, my junior high English teacher who was brilliant also took the class.  She failed...)

versailles
Community Guru
Rene K Member Since: Jul 10, 2014
69 of 121

@Mary W wrote:

(including a self-directed course on existential French literature in French).


 Wow. I, wouldn't do that. You're brave. :-)

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"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless
mwiggenhorn
Community Guru
Mary W Member Since: Nov 10, 2014
70 of 121

That was back when I could actually read and speak French.  It was very depressing...

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