Wordcraft Home Page    Wordcraft Community Home Page    Forums  Hop To Forum Categories  Linguistics 101    American debasements

Moderators: goofy, neveu, zmježd
Go
New
Find
Notify
Tools
Reply
  
American debasements Login/Join
 
Member
Picture of zmježd
posted
Henry Alford in his A Plea for the Queen's English: Stray Notes on Speaking and Spelling:
quote:
Look, to take one familiar example, at the process of deterioration which our Queen's English has undergone at the hands of the Americans. Look at those phrases which so amuse us in their speech and books; at their reckless exaggeration, and contempt for congruity; and then compare the character and history of the nation—its blunted sense of moral obligation and duty to man; its open disregard of conventional right where aggrandizement is to be obtained; and, I may now say, its reckless and fruitless maintenance of the most cruel and unprincipled war in the history of the world. Such examples as this (and they are as many as the number of the nations and their tongues) may serve to show that language is no trifle. (link)
This 19th century Dean of Canterbury has always amused me. I was hoping he would give some examples, but he does not.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
Posts: 5085 | Location: R'lyehReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of arnie
posted Hide Post
Good grief. I've seen similar polemics against American 'debasement' of the language, but nothing quite so silly as that. The war I assume is the American civil war, which was, of course, horrific. I wonder, though, if he knew that our own English civil war, a couple of centuries earlier, was responsible for the death and injury of a greater proportion of the population of the country than in America?

Nowadays the reactionaries tend to blame the 'decline' of the language on the young; he and some of his peers appear to pin the blame on Americans. Heigh-ho.

I skimmed through some of the book and it seems to be a typical peevologist's rant of the times. Many of his complaints now seem odd, even to the Lynne Trusses of today. Others, such as his fear of the "u" being dropped in words like honour, following the American practice, never happened in the rest of the English-speaking world.

I am strongly reminded of Ambrose Bierce's Write It Right, which contains a similar collection of nonsense. He also subscribes to the etymological fallacy referred to elsewhere.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
Posts: 10927 | Location: LondonReply With QuoteReport This Post
  Powered by Social Strata  
 

Wordcraft Home Page    Wordcraft Community Home Page    Forums  Hop To Forum Categories  Linguistics 101    American debasements

Copyright © 2002-12