“How has the status of the English changed, if at all, from the time of Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary (1755) to Macaulay’s and Ray’s call for English language education in India?” As I read this prompt I was prepared to talk about the idea of English as a living language because Johnson tells us that, “… our language is yet living, and variable by the caprice of every one that speaks it, these words are hourly shifting their relations … .” This is certainly true today, especially with slang and the addition of “Internet slang” (which is almost its own language). However in reading the prompt a few times I discovered something. While the title of the blog is, “The History of the English Language,” there is something wonky in the wording in the prompt itself that I didn’t catch at first. It states, “How has the status of the English changed… .” How has the status of THE English changed, the English as in the people not only the language. It it’s possible that that “the” was a grammatical error, but I’ve decided to run with it.
Within the limited scope of the reading, I probably won’t really be able to give a proper account of the “status” of the English or how it has changed, but I want to talk about how status of the English has been partially achieved through language. Yup, I am going to talk about imperialism/ colonialism again, a lot of our readings have this historical idea within them. Macaulay’s call for English in India supports this idea of conquering through language the minutes state, “A sum is set apart “for the revival and promotion of literature and the encouragement of the learned natives of India, and for the introduction and promotion of a knowledge of sciences among the inhabitants of the British territories,” (1). So here is this idea of using language to control other people. Also, Consider the “noble savage” they don’t speak right, or act right, or worship the right god… so it’s our duty to help them (by taking there land and trying to make them conform to European ideas). Language is one of the forms used to further imperialistic ideas and this certainly effected the status of the English. So the status of the English is deeply effected by the English language.