“Total and sudden transformations of a language seldom happen” thats what Samuel Johnson says in his preface to his english dictionary. Theres reasons that they don’t happen usually because languages aren’t as messed up as the english language was. He argues that he found no order in the language at all and that he struggled to find real grammatical structure and rules. He can say that he wants to write this piece of the purpose of the language and for the betterment of the people and the country but i find it all to be an excuse for his own elitist cause. The problem I believe that he found was that there was no way to distinguish academic, intellectual writing from common writing. There was no way to judge writing and distinguish it as well written or a horrible writer who just happens to be making the right mistakes.
It’s also interesting to look how this transformation of the english language was brought about the same time as imperialism was starting to take off. We’ve seen in the other authors we have studied in this class how they attempt to justify and normalize imperialism with various examples of how the english are enlightened compared to ‘savages’ from other countries. I believe that when colonialism began to spread, so did the attempt to assimilate other cultures into the English way. Johnson and other writers realized that if they were going to spread this idea that English was the sophisticated, enlightened language, they needed a way to teach it and it would have been impossible without clear rules. I don’t think that Samuel Johnson was writing directly for and only in favor of imperialism but the issues of the language arose when it came time to spread it. The english were quick to assert this idea that they needed the spread this enlightened, superior culture but realized that their language was full of faults. The standardization of english was going to be necessary at one point or other it simply became necessary during the time of expansion and imperialism.