Monday, June 2, 2008

Is a legitimate language being bastardized or a bastard language being legitimized?

The younger generation, in informal speech, often makes up words like “awesomer,” most often in jest of the understandable but grammatically incorrect words. The use of these in some cases becomes so pervasive as to work itself into niche journalism and advertising, spurring a backlash (that often hits advertising, who also loves to make up new words or misspell old ones) touting the breakdown of the English language. Some would debate whether the English language ever had particular status to claim a breakdown, considering it’s basically a hackneyed puzzle of borrowed words from scores of languages.

However, one must consider the basic formation of these grammatically incorrect words and put them in context. In most cases, the formers of these words take regular conjugations (or suffixes, etc.) and apply them to irregular words, of which there are far too many in English. If you then consider that, applied broadly, these changes would actually regularize and simplify our language into a learnable, user-friendly language instead of the eternally expanding enigma we now have, it seems these word pioneers are doing more to further the legitimization of a language formed by stealing bits from other languages a few at a time, giving it a distinct and consistent set of rules and sounds, making it more its own.

However, this will never happen for several reasons- first, the regular influx of new words that people bring into the language from elsewhere is a never ending stream, second, our language would begin to resemble its European counterparts and be laughed out of existence for its idiosyncratic sound and supposed over simplicity, thirdly, because English snobs would no longer have their tightly held arcane knowledge of the minutia of the language to hold over others and finally, because an entire industry of English teachers, text book makers, proofreaders and more would be out of jobs.

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