Friday, January 18, 2013

Keep Calm and Think Before you Speak



English… a language spoken throughout the world. Yet here in America, there are those who act as if the USA owns it. I know one of these people. Whenever he comes across a video from a British source, the criticisms fly fast and frequent. Some of his gripes revolve around him they ‘talk funny’ in regards to the accent. Personally, I love the British accent and wish I had one. But that’s not important for this discussion. The other gripe he has is when a Britain, buy his standard, pronounces a word incorrectly. Of course he ignores that some words are just pronounced differently in different ‘versions’ of English. Sort of like in the USA aluminum is pronounced like ah-lew-min-um, and in the UK it’s more like, al-ew-min-e-um. He (and others of the same mindset) don’t chalk this up to regional differences, but rather that the British are just wrong and that American English is the ‘correct’ English. Wait, what!? Does anyone else see the problem here? There really isn’t one correct English anymore. But if there was, it wouldn’t be American English. The de facto English would have to the ancestral English that all modern versions of English are based on today. But that version has long since passed. Like all life on Earth, languages also evolve. Proto-English its self was drawn from other inspirations, but the language gained it’s greatest foothold it what we now call England. Over the years English evolved until the British Empire began to spread it throughout the world. By this time, the English they spoke wouldn’t be very hard for us to understand today. It was through the British colonization of what would become the United States, that English was brought to our shores. Somewhat isolated (geographically) as the USA was, a different version of English slowly started to evolve in a somewhat different way than it was evolving back in England. Because of this separation, American English and the Queen’s English are somewhat different in some ways. The same is true for other areas that Brittan colonized. Australian English is also somewhat different. Same with South African, and so on. Seeing how the USA got English from England, how can anyone seriously claim that American English is THE English? If you want the best German, speak to a German. The best French will likely come from the French, the best Swedish from the Swedish, the best Japanese from the Japanese. The roots of all these languages may be long past, but they are names as they are for good reason. So if you really want the most correct modern English, you have to give the nod to those that have been using it the longest… the English!



But while language evolves, there is a digital threat risking its devolution. Message boards have become a place where people choose to showcase their inability to use the correct there/their/they’re for the context of their thought. But I can get by this since most posts are made on the fly without much thought. I’m sure you’ll find an error here and there in my blogs as well. I have a bad habit of writing these while I’m half asleep, and don’t bother proof reading. No… the scourge I’m speaking of is the spread of typing messages everywhere as if it were a text message.  Personally, I spell out my text messages properly, yet more and more I’ve been seeing people post in forums as if they were limited to just a few characters.

‘n’ to replace ‘and’
‘cuz’ to replace ‘because’
‘b4’ to replace ‘before’
‘dat’ to replace ‘that’
‘da’ to replace ‘the’
‘r’ to replace ‘are’
‘jus’ to replace ‘just’
‘u’ to replace ‘you’

and so on…

Seriously, most of these only save you one or two letters. Is that miniscule amount of time savings really worth looking like you don’t know how to spell such simple words? I’ve never understood the need to type in this sort of shorthand. It just looks sloppy and uneducated. Interestingly enough throw in a word or two above grade school level and they either get confused or accuse you of being a show off. As if knowing a little vocabulary is a bad thing. Sorry, but I see nothing wrong with expanding one’s vocabulary. Furthermore, there is one pet peeve of mine that I’ve disliked since I was young… Purposely misspelled words. Xtreme, wrapz, boyz, etc. They all just annoy me. Shamefully forcing an ‘x’ or a ‘z’ into a word in the vain attempt to appear hip and edgy.
With horrible examples like that, I certainly don’t want ‘our’ English being help as a standard of any kind.

-BH

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