Curiousity within the “English” Language

Samuel Johnson not only shaped the English language but has also proven that this creation is like many things European people create, not including marginalized groups. As stated, “Commerce, however necessary, however lucrative, as it depraves the manners, corrupts the language” (10). This phrase suggests that anything outside Europe ideologies can be a threat to the English language.

Additionally, Johnson has also built a dialect centered around his views and intelligence rather than considering what other citizens had in mind. It becomes an issue since we’re led to “live up to” the expectations of one man whereas a society should consider other viewpoints. In our contemporary world it becomes interesting to hear and see the slangs words and multilingual dialect in our conversations because it’s an opposition to what Johnson, typical European man, expects from society. I’m not inferring that having structure in our language is obsurd however what made a society agree with Johnson’s dictionary? If many people were not as educated as Johnson did they have an idea of what they were agreeing to when adopting the English language? For those that did not, what would our linguistics look like if given a translation of Johnson’s Dictionary?

Taking a look at Macaulay’s work, Minute by the Hon’ble, I see an attempt at trying to understand the language structure outside of Europe. He states, “I have no knowledge of either Sanscrit or Arabic. But I have done what I could to form a correct estimate of their value. I have read translations of the most celebrated Arabic and Sanscrit works. I have conversed, both here and at home, with men distinguished by their proficiency in the Eastern tongues. I am quite ready to take the oriental learning at the valuation of the orientalists themselves. I have never found one among them who could deny that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia. The intrinsic superiority of the Western literature is indeed fully admitted by those members of the committee who support the oriental plan of education” (10). The phrase “I have never found one among them who could deny” right away suggests that this overview is not merely his own but others he’s observed but is that so? How can we take Macaulay’s word just because of the way it’s written despite its’ lack of evidence? He speaks as an intellectual thus it makes readers, such as myself, interested in hearing more. This pretentious way of writing is similar to Johnson and the way reader’s react to both has not changed, in my perspective. The way the passage begins is also contradicting to what the rest of the text say since he starts with, “I have no knowledge of either Sanscrit or Arabic” because it implied the author had no interest in looking beyond his eurocentric ideologies. The contradiction is also a reason as to why i’m iffy of Macaulay’s viewpoint, since there’s no evidence on whether the stuff he’s implying is true.

-Kristy Frausto

 

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One thought on “Curiousity within the “English” Language

  1. The main idea is, “If many people were not as educated as Johnson did they have an idea of what they were agreeing to when adopting the English language? For those that did not, what would our linguistics look like if given a translation of Johnson’s Dictionary?” I do believe that you should expand on the paragraph about Johnson because it seems like you put more work into describing Macaulay and leaving Johnson in the background.

    Extra Credit 12/25/3

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