Same Criticism Different Approach

Both Johnson and Macaulay have criticism to offer both do it in a different way, In “A Dictionary of the English Language” by Samuel Johnson states that he finds the English language to be “without order and energetic without rules…every species of literature has itself…choice was to be made out of bundles variety, without any established of reflection…without suffrages of any writers of classical reputation or acknowledged authority (2).  This quote demonstrates that Johnson believed there could be improvement of the English language. He uses many words to describe what is wrong with the English language which is a bit contradictory to his way of writing because he does have a variety of words to choose from hence all the ones he has included.

As seen in the video the English language has developed over time with the influence of other countries and people. Over time there has also been stricter rules about both language and grammar. An example can be MLA handbooks that are often updated with new rules something which Johnson would have approved of.

The following quote is from Minute by the Hon’ble T. B. Macaulay,

“All parties seem to be agreed on one point, that the dialects commonly spoken among the natives of this part of India contain neither literary nor scientific information, and are moreover so poor and rude that, until they are enriched from some other quarter, it will not be easy to translate any valuable work into them.  It seems to be admitted on all sides, that the intellectual improvement of those classes of the people who have the means of pursuing higher studies can at present be affected only by means of some language not vernacular amongst them (8).

It is evident that Macaulay believes that the natives are not advanced when it comes to language, he is also a lot ruder about addressing this. When compared to the language Johnson used it is obvious that Macaulay underestimated their literature abilities. The fact that the natives of India did not focus on literary or scientific information does not make it less valuable at all. Language itself is artwork and should be valued. There are people who are not capable of writing stories that will be published but they can be just as good. Scientific information is also not something that measures the advancement of quality of a piece of writing.

The main point both authors were trying to emphasize is that the English language can always be improved. Could they have used a different way of expressing that? Yes.English was used as a weapon for imperialism by telling other that if they knew english they were already more advanced than they were before.  Due to this English language became more popular and were shamed if you didn’t speak it. This is still true today because English is one of the most popular languages therefore the influence of these authors did influence other people’s thoughts.

-Luz Zepeda


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