Introducing the Not So English Language

In Samuel Johnson’s preface he states “This uncertainty is most frequent in the vowels, which are so capriciously pronounced, and so differently modified, by accident or affection, not only in every province, but in every mouth, that to them, as is well known to etymologists, little regard is to be shewn in the deduction of one language from another.” As I continued to read this section, I couldn’t help but notice is Johnson talking about immigrants who can’t speak the language “properly”. The “uncertainty” of the “vowels” are “capriciously pronounced”?! He is judging the way other individuals pronounce a vowel, A VOWEL! It seems as though it is an attack on immigrants, those who cannot pronounce a word the way he’d like it to be pronounced. It definitely shows Johnson’s incapability to understand that language will never be spoken one way. Just like today, people from all over the world are capable of comprehending English, yet we all speak it in a different way. I may pronounce a word different from the person who sits next to me. Essentially what Johnson is describing is a melting pot of language and culture in English. English was not only founded on English, like in the history of our language it is derived from Anglo-Saxons, the French and so on. English is so culturally diverse how can one try to perceive it as something it isn’t?

There is no proper way to speak English, although there is still a constant fight as to yes there is a proper way to speak the language. If we are to agree with Johnson’s previous statement above, it is like we are also falling for a higher hierarchic definition of the English language. Ultimately the truth is our English language will always continue to change, as our history has already proven that. The way we pronounce words will always be different, and the way we use the language as individuals will never become unified. We are all of different backgrounds, cultures, social classes, and are even educated at different levels. The language is always going to change, because we are a changing society.

Viviana Ojeda

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2 thoughts on “Introducing the Not So English Language

  1. The main idea is, “It seems as though it is an attack on immigrants, those who cannot pronounce a word the way he’d like it to be pronounced. It definitely shows Johnson’s incapability to understand that language will never be spoken one way.” I would have like to hear more about Johnson and possibly other authors as well.

    Extra Credit 17/25/3

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  2. Your title was the most original idea because it def captured my attention. It’s funny because English seems though it is “superior” to other languages… but it isn’t even ours! I find that hilarious. I would only say add more context, such as authors in this to elaborate but I like it!

    Rahma Kohin
    EC – 18/25

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