On This Week’s Episode of “A Dusty Book Won’t Let People LIVE”

 

The status of English was and it still remains for some reason to be quite high. Though it remains a language that borrows or steals rather, a messy collection of meanings and ideas from other languages it has become a sort of commodity. Around the world. English seems almost an equalizer of intelligence. When my boyfriend applied to come to this country, he was taken seriously because of his brilliant fluency of English and ability to pass as if he had been born here. He tells me that in China, understanding English is money and access. Their education system teaches them English, as to help them survive in an English-dominated world, that is unyielding in any sense. He explains it as, “learn English, or remain in China.” The world has for some reason accepted English as the standard, or more, the elite standard. Where else can I attribute this to then the elitist tone of the Johnson’s English Dictionary. I am quoting this from a source in which funny enough, are translated so I can understand them. It’s comical how outdated his “master elite dictionary has truly become”.

 

[7] “As language was at its beginning merely oral, all words of necessary or common use were spoken before they were written; and while they were unfixed by any visible signs, must have been spoken with great diversity, as we now observe those who cannot read to catch sounds imperfectly, and utter them negligently. When this wild and barbarous jargon was first reduced to an alphabet, every penman endeavored to express, as he could, the sounds which he was accustomed to pronounce or to receive, and vitiated in writing such words as were already vitiated in speech. The powers of the letters, when they were applied to a new language, must have been vague and unsettled, and therefore different hands would exhibit the same sound by different combinations.”

[8] “From this uncertain pronunciation arise in a great part the various dialects of the same country, which will always be observed to grow fewer, and less different, as books are multiplied; and from this arbitrary representation of sounds by letters, proceeds that diversity of spelling observable in the Saxon remains, and I suppose in the first books of every nation, which perplexes or destroys analogy, and produces anomalous formations, which, being once incorporated, can never be afterward dismissed or reformed.”

 

 

I don’t have the space here to go over the inadequate and equally vague and incorrect statements he makes here. But when one asks why is English so elite. See, example one. The pompous tone rings elitism loudly in phrases such as “barbarous jargon”. I UNDERSTAND IN FACT, that yes, language changes over time. But to reduce the speech which becomes relevant to people and places out of convenience or culture, to just misinformation or uneducated status is ridiculous. To ridicule a dialect because HE doesn’t understand it?? To be this sure of yourself, that YOUR English must be the BEST version is as ridiculous as the missionaries who swore their religion was best and by raiding and torturing villages they were spreading Jesus and “better life”. The ignorance is blinding, and let me tell you, this guy cannot see his feet.

 

The diversity of language, even between dialects is a beautiful and incredible mandala of the different forces and ideas which shape life around us. I will say “hella because I’m from Northern California”. I will use relevant language that connects me to the world around me and appreciate what connects others to their world. Language in not universal but subject to each and their own. A dusty dictionary of elitism can’t dictate that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Caitlyn Grabill

 

 

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One thought on “On This Week’s Episode of “A Dusty Book Won’t Let People LIVE”

  1. The main idea appears to be, “The status of English was and it still remains for some reason to be quite high. Though it remains a language that borrows or steals rather, a messy collection of meanings and ideas from other languages it has become a sort of commodity. Around the world. English seems almost an equalizer of intelligence.” though I am uncertain. It was surprising to read such an argument and I find it to be a very strong one. I would, however, prefer if you put more information regarding the text so we could get an even better understanding of what you are attempting to convey.

    Extra Credit 15/25/3

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