"English: it's a neologism thang, innit"

  • EFL Teacher
  • Culture

An interesting article in The Guardian yesterday (Monday May 9th 2011):





Some extracts:


"Standardized spelling soon followed, and the British generally chose the Norman route.


 It took an American to start purging the French out of English. After the revolution the fledgling US sought to establish its independence culturally as well as politically. Moreover, the Enlightenment project of America's founders meant emphasizing literacy education; and pronunciation had already altered over the previous two centuries. In 1828 Noah Webster produced the first American dictionary, seeking to establish America's cultural distinctiveness.


The much-maligned (in Britain) suffix "-ize" is not a modern outrage derived from US business speak, but dates back to Webster, who returned it to words derived from Greek verbs ending in "-izein".


He also took the French out of words ending in "-re", and the "u" out of the suffix "-our", another French spelling. In other words, when the British mock "American" spellings, they are usually defending the French."

"The standardization of language may be a comparatively recent phenomenon, but fears about its corruption by foreign or degenerate "speches" are as old as xenophobia. The argument is always framed as an effort to keep the original language from "degenerating", but language can't degenerate: it can only live or die. The idea that languages are threatened by the inclusion of new words is as foolishly nativist as the idea that *exogamy threatens bloodlines."



*exogamy: is the custom of marrying outside a specified group of people to which a person belongs.

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