Bad Words

Just building on something that bluenote blogged about earlier.

Two thousand two hundred years ago the first sovereign emperor of China realized the horrible confusion that existed within his dynasty due to uncontrolled language. Qin Shi Huang used good judgment (if harsh policy) to establish a single written language so that his subjects could understand one another. The official language of China was established about 2200 years ago.

A considerable period after Spain was taken back from the Moors in the thirteenth century, the Real Academia Espanola was formed about 300 years ago. It's purpose was to create a standardized Spanish language based on the Castillian dialect, creating a living and evolving language.

About 200 years ago, Noah Webster scripted the first compendium of the English language and created the Dictionary. Today, students of English consider the Oxford English Dictionary to be the definitive text on what is and what is not English.

But across the Atlantic, we've fucked it all up.

As far as Spanish was concerned, Voseo and Ustedes dialects started to pop up for Spanish. Removed from the Iberian peninsula, people seemed to want to “create” their own variations on their native tongue. English dialects are not much better. There are scores of them all across the United States and Canada. Even French evolved into Creole and Haitian here. But is that so bad?

Yeah, it is. While there's nothing wrong with minor variations, the point behind sticking to a single, standardized language is that so people can still understand each other. As long as the core language is unchanged and it's rules left mostly intact then the variations in dialects that occur still allow the communication to stay robust.

There's no need for me to copy and paste here. Just about everyone has seen that awful chain e-mail where everything looks like it was written by a dyslexic and yet you can still read it anyway. That's not as clever as some people think. Mark Twain made a much better point of it when he wrote A Plan for the Improvement of English Spelling...and he did it all without e-mail.

But the point that Clemens made goes on to say that there is a line that you can cross. That it's possible to degrade the core of language even by something as simple as spelling; and when that happens it's a real problem. Forget about trying to recognize it as English. You will have trouble recognizing it as a language at all.

Sir bluenote says “I'm disappointed...Not just in the people who wrote (recent blogs), but in the education system that allowed them to be written...(people) with no sense of grammar, spelling or syntax?” And he's right. These turn up all the time. Apostrophes placed anywhere. Even rudimentary spelling is ignored. If it's an attempt at writing, it fails. If it's an attempt at individuality, it also fails.

Even one of the most erratic poets of free verse, e.e.cummings, was a thoughtful wordsmith. His play of language was deliberate, and all one had to do was read his novels to see that he wasn't just pulling words out of his ass. He already knew English inside and out, and was artistically experimenting with it. That is very different from someone who splashes around sloppy free verse and still can't write a paragraph that proves they have more than a third grade education.

And as usual for me, this blog was long. And some may note I used some deliberately multisyllabic or obscure words. But my raison d'plume was not negligent or perfunctory obfuscation, but premeditated process. For it is with much lugubriousness it is admissible that the sonorous rabble and hoi polloi that now plague our venerable linguistic traditions shall be those that are most in need to glean a modicum of illumination from these words.

Heheh...try writing that without a thesaurus.

But in regards to those idiots that will have no clue as to what I just wrote there? As the French say: c'est la vie. As the Americans say: Fuck 'em.

Uploaded 11/17/2008
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