Monday, August 3, 2009

The flexible English langauge

Going back to basics, I picked up Grammar for Dummies the other day. It's one of a bunch of books that I have on the subject, though I confess that in this I am an inexpert student, as my friends never tire of reminding me.

Not through my hand alone, American English is under attack because of the informality of the digital age. To the our grandparents tell it, the introduce of email and texting, have assaulted the language of Shakespeare and Chaucer. According to those traditionalists, we are fueling the flames of hell with style manuals of all kinds.

I am, however, a person who believes in the flexibility of grammar and words, which drives the strict grammarians batty. But when our forefathers and mothers reached these shores, the English they spoke and wrote combined with the native tongues of other settlers from other nations, resulting in the polyglot we have today.

As a country, Americans hold the belief that world history (and the English language) starts with their birth, and change should only occur on thier terms. Unfortunately, that believe smacks up against the other core American values of exploration and self-determination. The country was founded by a group of explorers who made up a new form of government and a Constitution flexible enough to be a living document 220 years later.

Is it any wonder that we also look at language as malleable, at least as it's interpreted within a given set of rules?

That said, have fun finding all the typos in this post.


greg said...

Since we are on the subject of grammar, how about an Oxford comma in your sub-title?

Anonymous said...

I'd agree language has become a bit more informal in business communications. That has as much to do with Twitter, IM, et al, as it does the natural evolution of the language.

Anonymous said...

One could argue that Twitter, IM, and the rest consitute the contemporary natural evolution of language, sitting dead center as agents of change as much as any other force in the past.

Benjamin said...

I am all for a separate "grammar" in the digital world, but when it starts to segue into the spoken language that is when I get a little crazy. If someone says LOL to me, I feel I am entitled to punch them in the face.

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