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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Another thing

I lost an earlier version of that post about Hebrew, and in trying to reconstruct it I forgot to say that there are perfectly good historical reasons for the weirdness of the spelling system of English, and all the other idiosyncracies you may have noticed, which I won't tire anyone with here. No, really, I won't. But you have only to ask.

I love the language and would defend it "to the pain"( in the immortal words of Wesley in The Princess Bride), if not to the death. In no way should it be considered ridiculous, or silly, or randomly dorky, as do some writers of popular books/internet dross about "that crazy, mixed up English!" (yuk yuk! Why do we drive on a parkway and park in a driveway! yuk yuk!) All those commentaries do is perpetuate misinformation and display the writers' ignorance (whether genuine or disingenuous) of their own subject. English is not crazy or mixed up-- if it were it could not function as a language, much less become the most dominant language on the planet -- okay, that has had something to do with many of its speakers' overweening lust for power, love of money and moral turpitude, but you get the idea.

And let's stop claiming that English is 'less expressive' than x or y language. Pure twaddle/ poppycock/pish tosh/rot/rubbish/crapola -- that claim says a lot more about the speaker than it does about English. "Er, yeah. The reason I can't express myself is I speak this useless language. If only I were Greek/French/Italian/Vanuatuan I could tell you how I /really/feel." Tell Shakespeare that English isn't expressive enough! Tell Dylan Thomas and Bob Dylan! W.H. Auden! Or just about any Irish person with a writing instrument and not very much money, apparently.

If English were a garden it would be a slightly wild, unkempt garden, a welcoming garden: Hey! Wanna grow here? Come on in! There's room for all you weirdos! -- an English garden, in short -- no less beautiful in its weedy way than the more orderly Japanese or Italian gardens.

Okay, I must slink off to do something constructive before King of the Hill comes on. Don't laugh, it's brilliant.

1 comment:

Tab said...

I love the English garden analogy! And the whole English is 'less expressive' than x or y language paragraph is what I have always thought but didn't know how to articulate.

Hey, off topic, but do you want some pie? -It's pecan.