Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Glad To See ...

... someone else is bothered by that besides I.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Get a job.

;^)

Unknown said...

For more on this, see Jesperson's Progress in Language, item 192, page 246.

It is worth remembering that English (as German) was a barbarous vernacular at the time, and Shakespeare (like Goethe and Schiller) were literally inventing modern English.

This included standardizing the spelling and regularizing the grammar, as well as expanding the vocabulary. In English, this was imported directly (e.g. interdict, from past participle of interdicere), whereas in German each morpheme was individually translated (untersagen, from inter -> unter, dicere -> sagen).

The only reason we say interdict instead of undersay is because England successfully broke with the Roman Church early on and used Latin to improve the standing and use of English among educated Britons, whereas in German-speaking areas the language itself was used as a weapon in this battle, and Latin was seen as a foreign oppressor.

Historical accident is no reason not to regularize our language. I can read and understand Standard American English much faster than nonstandard English, especially when the signal-to-noise ratio is low.

And just because Shakespeare (or Twain) sometimes used dialect to good rhetorical effect does not mean that lesser writers should so presume.

Naturally, me, being a greater writer, does so presume.

Anonymous said...

I know not what course others may take, but as for I give I liberty or give I death. Uh - no, I don't think so.

Btw there were no dictionaries yet at Shakespeare's time, so there was no place to look up the correct spelling or usage of a word. Everyone just spelled words as they thought they should be spelled. Dr. Johnson published the first English dictionary in 1755. He was proud of the fact that he wrote his dictionary in just 9 years while it had take the French 50 years to write theirs. But you already knew that.

As far as Shakespeare's spelling and usage go, Jim Quinn in "American Tongue and Cheek" points out that editors and printers have "corrected" Shakespeare's works through the years so that we can't be sure from what we read today what he actually wrote unless we're working from original manuscripts.

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