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Literary Shop Talk > The Death of English

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message 1: by Ruth (last edited Sep 20, 2010 05:36PM) (new)

Ruth | 15994 comments Mod
From The Washington Post.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...


message 2: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6387 comments Mod
So true Ruth....and it seems to be dying in places around here recently too!


message 3: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) Who me?


message 4: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18476 comments Mod
Should we be the Language & Funeral group, then?


message 5: by Ruth (last edited Sep 20, 2010 05:38PM) (new)

Ruth | 15994 comments Mod
Debbie wrote: "So true Ruth....and it seems to be dying in places around here recently too!"

Sure does. What's happened to our great discussions? Lost in the clouds of fiddlefaddle?


message 6: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6387 comments Mod
Sabotage? Inanities?


message 7: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18476 comments Mod
Is something rotten in Denmark?


message 8: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) I smell fish. . .


message 9: by Carol (new)

Carol | 10401 comments It die a slow and unspectacular death, riddled with
empty meaningless thoughts. Should I insert commas and apostrophes. (exiting the room laughing)


message 10: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) riddled with lots of vowels where none existed before. Common commas, and pleasingly punctuations, please.


message 11: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 15994 comments Mod
Riddled with inanities that don't even make sense.


message 12: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) Everyone seems to be . . . I don't know what is the word?


message 13: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6387 comments Mod
Tetchy....


message 14: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) yes,s that is the word. Sorry if I am partly to blame and I will obey the rules and not be hoggy.


message 15: by Terence (new)

Terence (spocksbro) I believe everyone should take a step back. Take a deep breath. And remember: The bells have been tolling English's death for generations, and it's still here.

We may be going through a rough patch at the moment but I am optimistic that people will recognize vacuity and inanity. It may take a generation but there will be more Shakespeares (well, maybe not Shakespeare), Hemingways, Austens, and Yeats, and they'll probably come out of the most surprising woodwork.

To paraphrase Edgar Rice Burroughs, "Where there's a reader, there's hope." :-)


message 16: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 20, 2010 10:42PM) (new)

English, like all living languages, doesn't die, it evolves, but in evolving it needs to be nurtured. Of greater concern should be the thousands of languages that are really under threat where the current speakers are numbered in thousands or fewer. Do we speakers of English have any responsibility towards the nurturing of those languages?


message 17: by Jan (new)

Jan (auntyjan) | 1259 comments How is Welsh faring?


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Jan wrote: "How is Welsh faring?"

Welsh is holding its own but with massive government subsidy and hugely beneficial legislation. It is being forced into those parts of Wales that were previously populated by monoglot English speakers.


message 19: by Jan (new)

Jan (auntyjan) | 1259 comments In Australia numerous indigenous languages are being lost as the last fluent speakers die. I often think someone should take a video camera and record all remaining languages for future study, but there are cultural sensitivities surrounding people being filmed, and also regarding showing images of people once they are deceased. However, there are a few projects here and there recording these ancient languages, and even encouraging literacy (using our alphabet) in them. English is a second language for many indigenous children.


message 20: by M (new)

M The bell tolled for whom a long time ago.


message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

M wrote: "The bell tolled for whom a long time ago."

Hemingway? Oh it wasn't a question, sorry.


message 22: by M (new)

M But what a perfect answer!


message 23: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6387 comments Mod
From the NZ Listener...

http://www.listener.co.nz/issue/3493/...


message 24: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)


message 25: by Carol (new)

Carol | 10401 comments That is funny.


message 26: by Carol (new)

Carol | 10401 comments We do sound bad.


message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

If I had anything to do with it, Britain would have become a republic long before there was any possibility of that happening.


message 28: by Jan (new)

Jan (auntyjan) | 1259 comments Debbie wrote: ".....and this!

http://www.listener.co.nz/issue/3586/..."


That was so like, seriously awesome, Debbie!


message 29: by Oz (new)

Oz (ozette) | 4 comments Jan wrote: "How is Welsh faring?"

It's ok not as well spoken as it used to be, in the same state as Cornish is. They were both purposely eradicated by the Governments in their time.


message 30: by Ken (last edited May 31, 2011 06:05PM) (new)

Ken | 18476 comments Mod
Let's hope they both (Welsh and Cornish) make a comeback.

P.S. Welcome, Lou Eli!


message 31: by Oz (last edited Jun 01, 2011 12:33AM) (new)

Oz (ozette) | 4 comments Hello! Sorry, I am new I was reading and didn't think to introduce myself.

Welsh is taught in schools now and in some areas there are Welsh only schools but as you said there are a lot of Welsh English people in Wales who don't really care much about the language.

Welsh was eradicated from schools in the 19th Century. The English Government disregarded the traditions of Wales and culture of Welsh people. Basically thought everyone should be taught in English and speak in English (if you look up Cornish it also had this same ruling). If you spoke Welsh you got the Welsh Not, a small plank of wood with a 'WN' on it, it was passed from pupil to pupil if you heard another speaking Welsh, whoever had it the end of the day got a beating. Around this time there was a massive influx of English workers too which caused further dilution of Welsh as a spoken language in Wales.

I hope so too being Welsh myself =]. I speak little Welsh though.


message 32: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18476 comments Mod
It should be offered as a language course in school there. (Am I stating the obvious, or what?)


message 33: by Oz (last edited Jun 01, 2011 02:33AM) (new)

Oz (ozette) | 4 comments Yes it is offered :P It's mandatory for people to learn Welsh in Wales at school now, Welsh GCSE is also compulsory for all Welsh Students. It doesn't mean it's used in everyday life though.


message 34: by Anthony (new)

Anthony Buckley (anthonydbuckley) | 112 comments There are schools in Belfast and in parts of Scotland (mainly Highlands and Islands) where school subjects are taught through the medium of Gaelic.


message 35: by [deleted user] (last edited Jun 01, 2011 12:39PM) (new)

Much is made of the Welsh Knot and it is a running sore with the Nationalists who love beat the government about the head with it. Not much is said about a similar discriminatory policy operated by local education authorities controlled by the Welsh Nationalists. When I was studying in Bangor in the mid 1970s both my children attended a Welsh only primary school although both came from an English speaking Welsh household. My son took to Welsh very well even beating native Welsh speakers in recitation in the annual Eisteddod. However, my daughter faired less well and in an incident of what I consider to be barbarism was refused permission to go to the toilet unless she asked in Welsh. This was only her third day at school at the age of four, and she had an 'accident'.

I was furious and asked the education authority to transfer both children to an English medium school just three miles away, being willing to transport them there at my own expense. The Education Authority refused and gave me no right of appeal. We did not stay in that area after I graduated.


message 36: by Carol (new)

Carol | 10401 comments Long time no see David(Dafydd). Happy to see you around.


message 37: by Oz (last edited Jun 01, 2011 02:05PM) (new)

Oz (ozette) | 4 comments Eh it depends where you go, there are bad schools everywhere. I live in a very much English county in Wales. Went to the closest C of E and the teachers bar one was awful and acted the same as the teacher you describe, nothing was taught in Welsh bar 1 hour of Welsh a week, but they always refused me to go to the toilet amongst other things. However my cousins go to a more Welsh orientated school and their teachers were much better than any I ever had. I went to primary school in the 90s.


message 38: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18476 comments Mod
Awful teachers = A dime a dozen? Do they at least read "A Child's Christmas in Wales" aloud and with brio?


message 39: by Geoffrey (new)

Geoffrey | 126 comments James Thurber donged the first bell, noting English`s immin...t demis.... in his novel abut the miscrent king hoo whated a certain vwel and fom then onnnn it was a sory tale,ony to get werser and werser for dose who red the store.


message 40: by Cecily (new)

Cecily | 175 comments Geoffrey wrote: "James Thurber donged the first bell, noting English`s imminent demise in his novel abut the miscrent king hoo whated a certain vwel and fom then onnnn it was a sory tale,ony to get werser and w..."

He surely wasn't the first; 'twas ever thus. For example, in 1712, Jonathan Swift declared "Our Language is extremely imperfect . . . its daily Improvements are by no means in proportion to its daily Corruptions" and, albeit writing of Latin, Cicero wrote in 46 BC "Practically everyone . . . [a century ago] spoke correctly. But the lapse of time has certainly had a deteriorating effect in this respect."


I think this analogy works just as well for language as it does for behaviour, technology and everything else:

What our grandparents did is hallowed tradition.
What our parents did is wholesome and quaint.
What we did is harmless fun.
What the youngsters are doing today will bring the collapse of civilization.


message 41: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18476 comments Mod
Like that one, Cecily. What's the source (or is it by the ubiquitous "Anonymous"?)....


message 42: by Cecily (last edited Jul 20, 2011 03:15AM) (new)

Cecily | 175 comments I copied it from a comment on the excellent Language Log (http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/...), but I don't know the origin.

It's rather like something from a Douglas Adams speech, but I don't know if he was borrowing or borrowed:

Anything invented before your fifteenth birthday is the order of nature. That's how it should be.
Anything invented between your 15th and 35th birthday is new and exciting, and you might get a career there.
Anything invented after that day, however, is against nature and should be prohibited.


message 43: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18476 comments Mod
"Against nature and should be prohibited"...

Rather makes grouches of all of us in the "over 35 category," doesn't it?


message 44: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18476 comments Mod
Well I put the first in as a quote by Anon here on GR to see if it matched something and no, it didn't. Sometimes I've noticed, however, that quotes eventually get linked here and suddenly they go from "0 people like it" to "2,387 people like it." Algorithms, I think. Or something like that.


message 45: by Cecily (new)

Cecily | 175 comments Newengland wrote: ""Against nature and should be prohibited"...

Rather makes grouches of all of us in the "over 35 category," doesn't it?"


Yes, I think there should be another category for things invented between 35 and 55, where you want to get involved, but are miffed that the youngsters take to it so much more quickly and easily.


message 46: by Genine (new)

Genine Franklin-Clark (suz83yq) I'm working on an attitude adjustment - from "Does no one speak proper English any more?" to "It's
fascinating to see my first language change as I watch."

This is not easy.


message 47: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 79 comments Right. Good luck with that......


message 48: by Susan (new)

Susan It isn't easy Genine, I think it's sometimes best to accept that the English language is a work in progress....constantly evolving.
I wonder what Chaucer would make of how we speak now! He would probably have a hard time understanding us......which would serve him right, as he certainly gave me a hard time at school!


message 49: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18476 comments Mod
The Death of English? Attending this funeral is like Groundhog Day all over again.


message 50: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6387 comments Mod
Me too Genie! I think I am much further along than I was 20 years ago though!


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