English grammar in US - reply
lcjbrick at ANTELOPE.WCC.EDU
Wed Jun 26 22:26:13 CDT 1996
On Tue, 25 Jun 1996, Robin Leech wrote:
> When 85% of the people write, "It don't make no difference.", am I being
> pedantic to hold out for "It doesn't make any difference?"
> I guess it don't matter none just so long as there aint no one what can't
> never misunderstood me. Sure this is real swell fer thoze uv us what
> learned English as a mother tongue, but what about all them others?
> Their gonna have a tough time.
> Leave us leave this here topic.
> Robin Leech
Several years ago my mother made a very astute comment to me during a
discussion of table manners. Her statement was that "fingers
were invented long before forks." The gist was that we
can all try to be snobs about such things as eating habits and language
but the truth is that these are practices driven by the masses. Why is
enough spelled with a "gh" and not an "f"? Why is it appropriate to use
its in certain a context rather than it's? The simple answer is
When Gutenberg invented the printing press a need for
standardized english arose. Those who did the standardization had to
choose from several regional variations of spelling, grammer and
punctuation. The selections made were abritrary, at best. The problem is
that stuff shirts like those participating in the recent discussion on
Taxacom forget that language is the possession of the masses
and not a select group of academics. To hear disparaging
comments of Americans and the use of "their" language really
tickles me. I think it is groovy, cool, far out, radical, and narly how we
all bend language to suit our needs. If there arises a new "PC" use
of the word their so be it.
Our language is adapting to changes in
society. That is why is why language is there. To quote Webster;
language is "the expression or communication of thoughts and feelings by
means of vocal sounds..." Language is the fabric of our thoughts and
ideas. It defines who we are as a species. I have read of one
European country in recent years that has established laws requiring
a certain level of cultural material sold within its borders to be
generated by its own artists. The view is that the evil American
media machine is destroying that country's cultural identity. The
same country has laws on its books restricting parental choice for
newborn names to an official list.
I remember my english teachers in high school trashing me because I
didn't follow the official grammatical rules in my compositions. I
really didn't think much of their tirades as I knew that in the long
run a few minor violations of grammer meant nothing. Read "I know
why the caged bird sings" and tell me if that work is any less
powerful because it wasn't written in Queen's english. The strength
of a democracy comes from free exchange of thoughts and freedom from
repression (why else would the internet be called the most powerful
democratic tool ever invented?). I
may be reading too much into the comments that have appeared recently in
this discussion group, but it seems to me that several people would like
to tie up and burn at the stake anyone who uses "their" language in a manner
in which "they" don't approve. (How many people have suffered throughout
history at the hands of the "they" and many more will do our suffering
before we all learn to truly value political and cultural freedom?)
The next step will be the establishment of a
Center for Official Linquistic Studies. The deaths of 60 million plus
souls in this century from oppressive regimes should tell us that isn't a
road we want to go down.
This english speaking citizen of the world will ignore the
criticisms of the academics cuz in the long run their thoughts "don't
make no difference."
(Yes, the fierce cowboy spirit of independence is alive
and well out here in the wide, open West.)
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