Sunday, June 22, 2008

The King's English-or The Prodical Tongue

Ah, language... I have lived in many parts of the United States and several English speaking countries and I have always been fascinated by the variations in the so called "English" language. For example, I was speaking to a gentleman on the phone this week who told me to "axe" the receptionist for directions. My son swears he will live to be "a hunred." Then he asks "wo'if"-pronounced woof-it rains? Should he bring a jacket? A recent visit to Maine taught us about Americans who do not pronounce their "r"s. For instance they ate "lobsta" at a "dinea" in "Ba Haba."

English professors and teachers pull out their hair and mutter at the loss of the King's English, but Americans have always melted our language into regional tongues. Then we add Spanglish to the list, Englasian and Eubonics. Now we must worry about cyber speak for instance; LOL, OMG, TTYL, BFF and CU.

What about rules? What about grammar? What about pure language and educated writing? While it's true that polished language shows education, intelligence and forethought, it is also true that no one writes or speaks the way they did in 1776...when American language really did stem from the King's English. Language is a living entity, growing in new directions and dying in old directions... (Remember when everyone said, "swell" or "tubular?") I would argue that language is ever evolving and holding it back is counter to it's growth. Like a kaleidoscope, language is colored by the time and space it inhabits. As a writer, I love to listen to the way people talk and sneak some of the accents and color into dialog to show character and setting.

Always a purist in a professional setting, I think there is a time and place for every type of language. It's deciding the right time and place that really shows your intelligence. And don't 'cha think that's just awesome?

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