I was talking with a friend a few days ago about government regulation of a variety of things; guns, narcotics, taxes, the works. She said one thing that struck me. It didn’t strike me because of the context, but it struck me because of the words and its universal applicability. She said “Where does it stop?” She said this in regards to her views of her tyrannical government but I heard it in regards to grammar. Which, I guess gives a little insight into where my mind was at that moment. But, similar to government regulation, the perversion of the ‘original’ English language by today’s users seems to be unaware that of it’s own implications. The American south has adopted words such as ain’t and y’all and it has accepted the use of double negatives to still be negative in connotation. The Northeast has changed the pronunciation of many words like water and boss. Several social communities have created their own way speaking, the newest of them all being the internet and it’s group of language leaders. Many English professors today would argue that these are the communities whom are steering the English language towards an eventual ice burg, far away from the language’s origins. But when they proclaim a reverence towards the works of writers like Shakespeare it makes me wonder about their validity. “After all, Shakespeare made a doing word out of a thing verb at every chance he got” -Stephen Fry. So why are the “language guardians” we know as teachers and professors, able to be so hypocrticial in their preferences? I would argue that today’s people are the ones that add richness to the language, not the opposite. If everyone were to adhere to the original English, there would only be a plain monotony and before long, everything that would be possible to say would have been said. Verbal freshness is key to the advancement of the language and only with the modern bastardizations is that possible. Now, this is not to say we should all together abandon order in the language. There is a limit to how far we diverge, and with the many paths branching from the long, linear track of Standard English only the changes that stick are worth noting. But, with all this change I refer back to my friend’s original question. Where do we stop? I think we don’t stop. We let as many dialects as possible run free, creating and shaping a new English. As long as a change is accepted by all the language’s speakers then it seems to me, the change is worth changing. So I say go on, invent a new word, ponder syntax and provoke change. Maybe the change you create with friends will make you the next Shakespeare.
Perversions and Bastardizations
May 13, 2012