Don’t Get Wor(l)d(l)y With Me!

For my creative assignment, I decided to work with Samuel Johnson’s “Preface” to The Dictionary of The English Language, with an emphasis for the way in which Johnson write the preface. Instead of channeling his work and writing a version of it that would applicable today (a new preface for the OED or something of that nature), I decided to do a parody of his work. With this thought in mind, I borrowed the tone of Samuel Johnson and reworked him into my character, Dr. Johnson, who is a linguist professor teaching in the 21st century. I decided to do this because I feel as though there are many people in academia who still practice the same sort of exclusionary methods of analyzing literature as Johnson did back in the romantic era. My second character is Mavis, Dr. Johnson’s child. Mavis represents the future generation of people to use the English language (which was Johnson’s target audience when making the Dictionary). In this play, Mavis questions his father’s ideas about the English language and its “proper” usage, bringing up many of the complaints and contradictions we have talked about in class while studying Johnson. I thought this would be a neat dynamic to focus on because Johnson’s preface really doesn’t have a rebuttal. It doesn’t leave any room for someone to respond or challenge his ideas. I thought it would be interesting to explore what the creation of Johnson’s Dictionary would have been like had it been more of a collaborative process. I chose to write this piece as a short play because not only is that my favorite medium to write in, but also because I thought it would be an interesting and creative way to talk about Johnson’s preface which comes across as so flat and one sided, given that plays are so vibrant and interactive.

DON’T GET WOR(L)D(L)Y WITH ME!

By Elle Lammouchi

Time: Present

Characters: Dr. Johnson – an English professor with an emphasis on linguistics

Mavis – Dr. Johnson’s 20th/21st century born child

Setting: Dr. Johnson’s office

At Rise: Dr. Johnson is banging on his laptop. Mavis is reclining in a chair, texting.

Dr. Johnson

God Damnit! The wi-fi is down again.

(shuts laptop)

Mavis

Hashtag, first world problems

Dr. Johnson

What… does… that… even… mean?!

Mavis

It means that you’re like totally privileged. Like, the only reason you can even think about this problem is because you’re not starving to death.

Dr. Johnson

I need a drink.

(starts rummaging for alcohol)

Mavis

First world problem number two….

Dr. Johnson

Why do I spend all this money to send you to an Ivy League school, to study English no less, for you to come home and talk with such lowly, savage, convoluted terms? It’s barbaric. You would think I didn’t bring you up to have a command over the English language.

Mavis

You totes need to calm down.

Dr. Johnson

DO NOT TELL ME TO CALM DOWN!

Mavis

Chillax, yo.

Dr. Johnson

I am not “chill.” In fact, quite the opposite, because my child, whom I have nurtured, formed and molded from the very beginning has thrust themselves headlong into the contemptible brambles of slang. Are you aware how uneducated you sound?

            (pause)

Mavis? MAVIS!

Mavis

             (texting)

 Huh? Oh, my bad, wa’sup?

Dr. Johnson

Have you been listening to a word I’ve been saying?

Mavis

            (Mimics the voice over from the Dos Equis commercials)

I hang on your every word, even the prepositions… You are the most literate man in the world… I don’t always use the proper English, but when I do, I prefer Samuel Johnson’s.

Dr. Johnson

What? Why? Why are you using an accent? That’s not even a real accent. Why won’t you just speak proper English? Oh, and by the way, Johnson is outdated. You should be using the Oxford English Dictionary now.

Mavis

No, you’re the one that’s outdated. You’re behind the times.

Dr. Johnson

Don’t get worldly with me!

Mavis

Well, don’t get wordy with me! What’s it matter to you if I use slang with my mates? You think they don’t understand me? Honestly, they probably understand me better. I think you’re just jelly because you don’t know what’s hip and happening. You can’t just bury your nose in books and not look around you. The world is changing. It’s reviving and thriving and being destroyed, being restored all at once. You know, you just…

Dr. Johnson

Mavis, that’s quite enough…

Mavis

No, it’s not enough. It’s never going to be enough. You can’t contain and maintain a language so vibrant and alive. Don’t you see how making everyone speak the same is just another form microaggression? Acting like it’s better for everyone… Who’s it really better for? Why don’t you pop in your wayback machine and go ask Johnson over tea if his little exclusionary process made a safe space for the English language to flourish… Do you want to see what I was tweeting right now? While you were blabbin’ away? You want me to ping you on this post? I could tag you, you know.

Dr. Johnson

I don’t know.

Mavis

You’re right you don’t know and that’s exactly what I’m tweeting here, on social media, for all the world to read.

(reading)

Your voice matters. Speak your own words. #GetLit.

Dr. Johnson

Get lit… as in, literature?

Mavis

Yeah, as in why don’t you get fired up about that?

(exits, defiantly)

Dr. Johnson

            (sits at the desk, astonished, and downs the Bourbon, grimacing; picks up dictionary and sets it aside, opens laptop and begins speaking as typing)

Google: First World Problems.

Evolution Of English

The English language is a tangled web that takes influence from many different european languages. Some of the influence that lead to the creation of english include French, Spanish, Latin and German. English, like most active langangues, evolves alongside the ever changing tide of cultural views and societal norms. In 1755, Samuel Johnson released Dictionary. Johnson objective for this release was to impose structure and untangle the english language. Johnson did not withhold his bias when choosing what words are acceptable to be included in his Dictionary. This attempt to control the english language studies the evolution of the language. In the preface to the book Johnson writes about the “energetic” unruliness of English. In his view, the language was a tangled mess, and was in desperate need of some discipline: “wherever I turned my view”, he wrote, “there was perplexity to be disentangled, and confusion to be regulated.” Yet through the process of attempting to fix the English language and give it structure Johnson realised that language is impossible to fix, because of its constantly changing nature, and that his role was to record the language of the day, rather than to form it.

Spreading the English language was a major aspect in British colonialism. When comparing the views of Johnson and T. B. Macaulay there are many similarities and differences. Johnson saw english as a broken language that could eventually serve the world, while Macaulay felt that “intrinsic superiority of the Western literature is indeed fully admitted by those members of the committee who support the oriental plan of education.” Basically, Macaulay viewed english as a language that could better and promote the advancement of the sciences in all corners of the british territories. Both men saw the impact and importance of English, but due to almost century long gap between these two writings the cultural view of English had evolved.

-Conor Morgan

 

Curiousity within the “English” Language

Samuel Johnson not only shaped the English language but has also proven that this creation is like many things European people create, not including marginalized groups. As stated, “Commerce, however necessary, however lucrative, as it depraves the manners, corrupts the language” (10). This phrase suggests that anything outside Europe ideologies can be a threat to the English language.

Additionally, Johnson has also built a dialect centered around his views and intelligence rather than considering what other citizens had in mind. It becomes an issue since we’re led to “live up to” the expectations of one man whereas a society should consider other viewpoints. In our contemporary world it becomes interesting to hear and see the slangs words and multilingual dialect in our conversations because it’s an opposition to what Johnson, typical European man, expects from society. I’m not inferring that having structure in our language is obsurd however what made a society agree with Johnson’s dictionary? If many people were not as educated as Johnson did they have an idea of what they were agreeing to when adopting the English language? For those that did not, what would our linguistics look like if given a translation of Johnson’s Dictionary?

Taking a look at Macaulay’s work, Minute by the Hon’ble, I see an attempt at trying to understand the language structure outside of Europe. He states, “I have no knowledge of either Sanscrit or Arabic. But I have done what I could to form a correct estimate of their value. I have read translations of the most celebrated Arabic and Sanscrit works. I have conversed, both here and at home, with men distinguished by their proficiency in the Eastern tongues. I am quite ready to take the oriental learning at the valuation of the orientalists themselves. I have never found one among them who could deny that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia. The intrinsic superiority of the Western literature is indeed fully admitted by those members of the committee who support the oriental plan of education” (10). The phrase “I have never found one among them who could deny” right away suggests that this overview is not merely his own but others he’s observed but is that so? How can we take Macaulay’s word just because of the way it’s written despite its’ lack of evidence? He speaks as an intellectual thus it makes readers, such as myself, interested in hearing more. This pretentious way of writing is similar to Johnson and the way reader’s react to both has not changed, in my perspective. The way the passage begins is also contradicting to what the rest of the text say since he starts with, “I have no knowledge of either Sanscrit or Arabic” because it implied the author had no interest in looking beyond his eurocentric ideologies. The contradiction is also a reason as to why i’m iffy of Macaulay’s viewpoint, since there’s no evidence on whether the stuff he’s implying is true.

-Kristy Frausto

 

A World of Words and the Roots of Global Erudition

 

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A genius requires a powerful language that has been enriched by scholars and thinkers alike, to convey his aptitude.

 

Lexicographer: A writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge that busies himself in tracing the original, and detailing the signification of words.

-Johnson

English education in India was spurred by an overwhelming eclectic inquisitiveness of its people. Like the Japanese in the 19th century, isolationists hitherto, who were in a sense enamored by the daunting naval fleet that  Commodore Perry possessed, and desired to advance themselves in a way that would be deemed most appropriate in relation to the ever so increasing globalization of the world. The life and immense lexicographical project that Samuel Johnson undertook, describes a time of incredible sociopolitical movement, and his work of compiling excerpts from what he considered as the most substantial to language, would inevitably be a key proponent in insinuating at a massive sociopolitical scale, the standardization of English in India.

Samuel Johnson devoted his existence to a language, and gave life to the words he defined. Looking across the entries of his dictionary —in addition to uncovering unique vocabulary of the time— you are able to glimpse upon some of the concerns of an era, as well as read of some of the historical context that was critically relevant to the period. Examining his definition of tory and whig, allows us to better understand through blatantly worded examples, the state of affairs in England. “Tory: One who adheres to the ancient constitution of the state, and the apostolical hierarchy of the church of England, opposed to a Whig. Whig: The name of a faction.” As a fervent tory, through his dictionary, we can constantly see as well as among Johnson’s other works, his devotion to the conservative order of the church and state. At the time, his focus was not on entirely to set forth to standardize a language for an entire world to better comprehend and advance technological achievements, but evidently in India, this would be the case.

Raja Rammohan Ray saw the potential of his people to propel themselves into ingenuity, and embraced the concept of standardizing a more practical and relevant language. Samuel Johnson, Thomas Babington Macaulay, and Rammohan Ray helped dig the grave of Sanscrit. Macaulay felt strongly about the obsolete presence of Sanscrit.” I believe that the present system tends not to accelerate the progress of truth but to delay the natural death of expiring errors. We are a Board for wasting the public money, for printing books which are of less value than the paper on which they are printed was while it was blank– for giving artificial encouragement to absurd history, absurd metaphysics, absurd physics, absurd theology– for raising up a breed of scholars who find their scholarship an incumbrance and blemish, who live on the public while they are receiving their education, and whose education is so utterly useless to them that, when they have received it, they must either starve or live on the public all the rest of their lives” (Macaulay). Roy also believed that it was necessary to switch and standardize English for the populous of India. “But as the improvement of the native population is the object of the Government, it will consequently promote a more liberal and enlightened system of instruction, embracing mathematics, natural philosophy, chemistry and anatomy with other useful sciences. ” Macaulay references the transformation of English from Greek, as an advancement, and that Sanskrit would benefit from similar means by adapting a similar evolution of language. “Had our ancestors acted as the Committee of Public Instruction has hitherto noted, had they neglected the language of Thucydides and Plato, and the language of Cicero and Tacitus, had they confined their attention to the old dialects of our own island, had they printed nothing and taught nothing at the universities but chronicles in Anglo-Saxon and romances in Norman French, –would England ever have been what she now is? What the Greek and Latin were to the contemporaries of More and Ascham, our tongue is to the people of India. The literature of England is now more valuable than that of classical antiquity.” (Macaulay).

Throughout my life, as a student of various subjects, and as a barista for the tech-company Yahoo, I have encountered numerous examples of sheer intellect of people who have come from India. Many of which, possess an insatiable hunger of knowledge, which is both inspiring and admirable at once. I now know through the writings of Macaulay and Roy, of the beginnings of such a prevailing display of intelligence. Without the introduction of English to the people of India, there ingenuity evidently be present, but perhaps not in a manner that would be proudly shared to us. Rammohan Roy that his people were incredibly capable and his last words to William Pitt entail a sense of desperation to standardize a more cohesive language, that was spurred forth by the efforts of Johnson and the powerful writers before him. “In representing this subject to your Lordship I conceive myself discharging a solemn duty which I owe to my countrymen and also to that enlightened Soverign and Legislature which have extended their benevolent cares to this distant land actuated by a desire to improve its inhabitants and I therefore humbly trust you will excuse the liberty I have taken in thus expressing my sentiments to your Lordship” (Roy). I conclude my blog post with an excerpt from Macaulay that explains and sums my beliefs and points sufficiently.

 We know that foreigners of all nations do learn our language sufficiently to have access to all the most abstruse knowledge which it contains sufficiently to relish even the more delicate graces of our most idiomatic writers. There are in this very town natives who are quite competent to discuss political or scientific questions with fluency and precision in the English language. Indeed it is unusual to find, even in the literary circles of the Continent, any foreigner who can express himself in English with so much facility and correctness as we find in many Hindoos. Nobody, I suppose, will contend that English is so difficult to a Hindoo as Greek to an Englishman. Yet an intelligent English youth, in a much smaller number of years than our unfortunate pupils pass at the Sanscrit College, becomes able to read, to enjoy, and even to imitate not unhappily the compositions of the best Greek authors. Less than half the time which enables an English youth to read Herodotus and Sophocles ought to enable a Hindoo to read Hume and Milton.

-Macaulay

 

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Spelling bees are a whole lot more entertaining, likely in part by Raja Rammohan Roy. You’ve allowed for the youth of an entire nation to rise intellectually to global prominence. Thanks Roy.

 

Sincerely,

Thomas Pham

 

Speaking English at a taco truck

To look at this matter in a much more modern and less depressing way, let’s play around with the individual experiences both Samuel Johnson and Thomas Macaulay would have had at a taco truck somewhere in southern California, surrounded by “non-native” speakers. This scenario is meant to bring our attention to the change in language and mindset between both the persons; their interactions with the people around them (i.e., other customers, the workers) will vary through the same common “problem”: language.

Johnson is the old, thin haired white man whom spent the last minutes before ordering his food searching through google translate on how to ask for two pollo asada tacos and one carne asada sope, only to get served two pollo asada sopes and one carne asada taco. At this point he’s sitting alone at a bench, feeling a stranger to the people around him, muttering to himself “the great pest of speech is frequency of translation… no [food order] was ever turned from one language into another, without imparting something of its native idiom,” as he takes an aggravated bite into his taco (Johnson, 10). Google translate has failed him. He looks down at his food, reminded of the mistranslation and yet again, laments to himself: “it alters not the single stones of a building, but the order of the columns” (Ibid). He finished his food just after this thought, and rising from his seat, he began watching the customers interact with the workers; the vernacular between them was different, and still, they understood each other. Although “some words are budding, and some failing away,” the conversation carries itself well: their food orders are understood correctly.

Meanwhile Macaulay sounds like the middle-aged white man that goes to a taco truck wearing a hat that he bought from a gas station (picture steve bannon) only to antagonize the people there just shortly after enjoying his fill of fish tacos, ranting about how they ought to colonize themselves: “you’re in America now. Speak the goddam language” and whatnot. He finds himself frustrated and annoyed by the audacity of the people speaking non-English, seeing them as incapable of a promising future. He looks at the people now—as one does a mouse in a snake’s cage—and utters, “[I] ought to employ them in teaching what is best worth knowing, that English is better worth knowing than [Spanish or ‘Taco Language’]” (Macaulay, 33). The people see him staring and turn their back to him, feeling uncomfortable, and yet all Macaulay can see is the color of their skin; he wants to change them into Americans however much he can. He walks away finally, wishing he could save them from their “problem” because he wants to do his “best to form a class of persons [indigenous] in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect” (34).

–Daniel Lizaola Lopez

 

 

Right and Wrong Defined: The English Language & Johnson

Language is a thing that by nature is free, the art of communication and writing allows anyone the chance to open their minds, to illustrate complex and simple ideas to their peers. At the same time, that freedom makes dehumanization difficult by bonding two beings through communication, a chance for empathy between individuals even with completely different backgrounds. Suppose, however, one imposed rules, regulations upon language. In doing so, one immediately establishes a right and wrong, a superior and inferior use of the language. All Johnson had to do was define what he deemed was the pure English (obviously what he and his peers used) and what was weak, messy, and useless forms of the language in order to give him a chance to speak his superiority over them. The Dictionary project had its good parts, but unfortunately would mark a major milestone for dividing classes, creating a hierarchy for the English language, allowing people to have a source to refer to when lowering the type of language of a different person. What it essentially came down to were the elitists receiving another shot to speak of their class, rhythm, their elegant use, whilst at the same time establishing and ‘us vs. them’ scenario against the more ‘barbaric’ use of the language. This is something that even occurs today, traced in history with the rather forceful push for English, specifically a proper one, to be spoken even in countries like India, where the language had no reason to dominate said area. More modern examples hold certain structural frames as superior in writing classes, and it’s no surprise these frames were made by the classic ‘white male scholar’. It is important however, to trace the major milestone in which led to this ideology that established into the English language, one that seems to hold criticism and the separation of ‘good and bad’ works so desperately.

There are many hints that Samuel Johnson supports this class split, noted by his selected description of the diverse, growing status of English for the time. A language fed by a variety is one that invites everyone to contribute, and this is exactly what Johnson would call “defects” (page 3, paragraph 2). In particular, one passage highlights his disdain for a mixed language, noting that if English did not separate its pronunciation and diction from other languages it would be considered the following: “barbari[ic]”, “ignora[nt]”, “vulgar”, “weakly followed”, and it goes on throughout the course of the Preface. Johnson even declares that the continued variety of the language is representative of “authours differ in their care and skill” hinting at the fact that there is indeed a split between a “good and bad” use of English, with some better than authors.

Though cleaning up English sounded like it would have good intent, it is important to note that the lust for classes, a desirable distinction between ‘us and them’ was a definite drive for Johnson in his creation of the dictionary, one that has definitely maintained its grasp to push the current ‘scholarly’ English as a superior language. Today we still see this separation, particularly in the college atmosphere, where there is a ‘right’ way to write above others (no surprise what kinds of people set these), where broken speech of English automatically translates to some people as stupidity, where in some cases one can only find the literature of the white, educated male highlighted, when certain groups of people call out and attack others when a language other than English is used (this notion of, we live in America, speak English etc. etc.). Sadly it all traces back to this intent drive to make English a more independent, selective tool. First English would be separated from its diversity, to purge common and multiculturalism within it, then this pure version of the language would be held above all, as the dominant form of communication. English was and still is, a beautiful language indeed, if one embraces its diverse roots. If not, it becomes yet another weapon to cultivate separation and dehumanization, and it all traces back to this.

 

-William Fernandez

The Eurocentric Standardization of English

It is no secret that the context surrounding Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary is built from a nationalistic view of the English being superior in rank and class in comparison to those in foreign countries including Scotland, India, and the New World. Moreover, the Dictionary was used for further political purposes by standardizing the way in people speak, spell, and write. In doing so, one essentially creates a platform of a dominant ideological way of interpreting literature and writing it; such a dominant ideology was to be rooted in Johnson’s conservative Tory values.

Some of the traces of nationalistic pride and conquest lie in Johnson’s preface to the Dictionary, claiming that he is “doomed only to remove rubbish and clear obstructions from the paths of Learning and Genius, [and] press forward to conquest and glory.” Immediately, it’s obvious he took it upon himself, as an Englishman, to be the one to pave the way for “enlightenment.” This is no surprise and he isn’t the first white European to think so. Although, what really is troubling is the fact he feels the need to “press forward to conquest and glory.” This desire to conquer what is assumed to be foreign lands is of no surprise either, yet to do so in the means of language has not been done on such a grand scale. It will be through the standardization of Johnson’s “English language” that he will politically have the power to enforce his own ideology upon foreign countries weaker than England. The submission of foreign lands would be granted willingly or unwillingly, as we see through Raja Rammohan Ray’s Address to His Excellency the Right Honourable William Pitt, Lord Amherst.

In Ray’s letter, he reduces thousands of years of Indian literature to “imaginary learning,” unfit to be taught anymore due to it “keep[ing] th[e] country in darkness.” I take Ray to be an example of the result of British conquest; someone who has submitted to their ruler and essentially brainwashed into believing such a discrepant power dynamic is justified. Retrospectively, we can see that Johnson set the precedent for an established and centralized form of English, which would be later superimposed upon foreign countries as an act of dominance more so, than as an act of fostering intellectual thought. Ironically, it funneled such thought into the limits of the British perspective, which is so counterintuitive to learning.

 

-Daniel Corral

How I Met Your English Language

In Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language, he expresses his feelings clearly in the preface. “…I found our speech copious without order, and energetick without rules: wherever I turned my view, there was a perplexity to be disentangled, and confusion to be regulated…” (1). In this quote, Johnson is clearly showing his disdain for the English language as it is “copious without order” and “energetick without rules” and so on. In other words, he believes that the English language is chaotic and ruleless. In a way, Johnson is eluding that the language is pretty much an anarchy because it has no order or established rules. He goes on to say “…choice was to be made out of boundles of variety, without any established principle of selection; adulterations were to be detected, without a settled test of purity…” (1). Johnson continues to express his dislike of the English language yet again by characterizing it as impure as there have been adulterations within the language. Think of it as a recipe for apple pie that has been ruined by ingredients that aren’t supposed to be there. With the use of apples (European fruit), the chef decided to add lemon (origin from India/China) and watermelons (origin from Eygpt) into the recipe. Obviously, the aftermath won’t be apple pie but something that is made out of “boundles of variety, without any established principle of selection”. The English language is not perfect, but it isn’t great either. However, Thomas Babington Macaulay would like to have a word with Johnson.

Although Johnson expressed his difficulties in understanding and explaining the English language, Macaulay believes the English language is the key to success. Even though Johnson had troubles with the impurity of the English language, Macaulay sees the rich history of the English language. To be fair, Johnson had to write a whole dictionary for the English language where Macaulay was only an advocator for the language in the British colonies. In the Minute on Education, Macaulay expresses his belief that the English language is “immeasurable” compared to others. In comparison to Sanscrit language, the English language puts it to shame in terms of value. As he states in excerpt 11: “…I certainly never met with any orientalist who ventured to maintain that the Arabic and Sanscrit poetry could be compared to that of the great European nations. But when we pass from works of imagination to works in which facts are recorded and general principles investigated, the superiority of the Europeans becomes absolutely immeasurable. It is, I believe, no exaggeration to say that all the historical information which has been collected from all the books written in the Sanscrit language is less valuable than what may be found in the most paltry abridgments used at preparatory schools in England” (11). In the beginning of this excerpt, Macalulay talks about the highest form of literature in India being poetry. Sure, the poetry there might be great before but it does match the value those of English poetry. And when people look back in history, the only poetry people will remember are those by the English. Tellingly, he is saying that even though India’s highest form of literature is poetry, the English can do it better. The value of English poetry is much more memorable than that of Eastern poetry. And because of that, it is one of the many reasons why the English language should be implemented in the educational systems of the colonies.

Throughout the passage, Macaulay is suggesting that the language of Arabic and Sanscrit are not as great as English. But not in terms of being a language itself, but the value of the language. “I have never found one among them [scholars of Sanscrit and Arabic] who could deny that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia. The intrinsic superiority of the Western literature is indeed fully admitted by those members of the committee who support the oriental plan of education” (10). As stated before, the value of the English language is so rich and great that the libraries of any European nation would be much better than the literature that has been produced by India and Arabia. Overall, Macaulay is definitely suggesting that the language spoken by the colonies are worthless when being compared to the English language, a language that has such amazing value and history behind it. Macaulay is not only expressing his distaste of the other languages, but also the history and culture behind the language. Not a single literary work can come close to European literature because the language and the history behind it aren’t as good as the Europeans.

But why is the English language need to be taught to these colonies? Because the English language holds the key value of science. “To that class we may leave it to refine the vernacular dialects of the country, to enrich those dialects with terms of science borrowed from the Western nomenclature, and to render them by degrees fit vehicles for conveying knowledge…” (34). Macaulay then puts the language and culture of Sanscrit and Arabic in full blast: “We are to teach it because it is fruitful of monstrous superstitions. We are to teach false history, false astronomy, false medicine, because we find them in company with a false religion. We abstain, and I trust shall always abstain, from giving any public encouragement to those who are engaged in the work of converting the natives to Christianity. And while we act thus, can we reasonably or decently bribe men, out of the revenues of the State, to waste their youth in learning how they are to purify themselves after touching an ass or what texts of the Vedas they are to repeat to expiate the crime of killing a goat?” (31). All in all, he is explaining the importance of the English language because it was them that went through the age of science through the use of the language. In addition to that, he is not a fan of the practices of Indian traditions and sees them as a waste of time for people to learn. Therefore, he is promoting the use of the English language to be the language to promote the knowledge of the Enlightenment to these countries that lacked valuable knowledge.

In the end, the goal is to assume the colony with their own agenda. And in this case, that is to promote the English language. To be more surgical, they would need to promote the language so they could replace the history that is already there with something else. If the Sanscrit and Arabic languages are displayed as inferior to that of the English language, then the culture and history behind it will be diminished as well. And throughout the passage it is seen to be deconstructed each time and deemed less important. And once it is gone, it is justifiable to colonize the nation without any backlash from the colonizers and sympathizers. Regardless of the English languages “impurities”, the language has evolved in Macaulay’s eyes and it needs to expand.

  • Christopher Luong

Global education of the English language

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Samuel Johnson took nine years to write his publication until he finally realized that the English language was impossible to “fix.” Samuel wanted to pin the definition of words as one specific meaning. However, words are always evolving and the nature of their meaning changes depending on the different context. If they are pinned down and bound together in useless pages of paper, we are just restricting the freedom of words. We are restricting communication and the ability to express ourselves.

Samuel argued that commerce corrupts language because people have sex with strangers and over time learn a mingled dialect,”[Commerce] corrupts the language; they that have frequent intercourse with strangers. . .muft in time learn a mingled dialect” (Johnson 10). He is concerned with keeping the “purity” of English when really English is as pure as a brothel.

Although Samuel would disagree, learning more than a language other than English is really beneficial. Truthfully, other countries kind of make fun of us for not learning how to speak more than one language in our education. We don’t teach our younger generation to speak more than one language. There are countries where the average person knows about five languages. The US has become a sort of melting pot because many people from all over the world immigrate to the US yet we still haven’t been able to offer bilingual education.

We make fun of people or think it’s funny when they say things with an accent which is ridiculous because Americans do not speak another language and if they do, they also have an accent. For instance, Melanie Trump gets made fun of for her accent and ‘barely’ knowing how to speak English but she knows how to speak six languages fluently: Slovene, German, Italian, English, Serbo-Croatian, and French.

We attempt to correct pronunciation of things we don’t really know how to pronounce. Ironically, we also attempt to correct people who speak the language familiarly and actually know how to pronounce the name of their capital city. Yes, Berlin is pronounced as Bearleen.

We need to be more open to people trying to speak our language.

After all, there are people who only know how to speak English but still don’t speak English good.

A german international exchange student that I spoke with told me that all academic papers are nowadays in English so that people who studied science, for example, had their lectures in their mother tongue meanwhile, their books are in English. They told me that they do this so they could work in both German and English research teams. Additionally, they would have to publish their papers in English. In Universities, English is pretty much a standard language.

 

-Ana Diaz-Galvan

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