Practical Theory - The Origin
The Scholars in CyberEnglish
ToDaY's MeNu - Ted

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Language is Fluid

We all know or should know that language is fluid, liquid, subject to the whims of the people. Language evolves, as it should. Because language changes to accommodate new users, the older users resist and complain. Adults always look to the youth and their changes to language with great dismay to make these pronouncements. Recently in Atlantic Monthly, Megan Garber celebrated the death of WHOM in the cute "For Whom the Bell Tolls." Since the demise of the influence of Latin in the classroom, grammar has gone to Hell.

A knock on the door and "Who is it?"
"It is me." is the usual response, not the correct (sic) "it is I."
When I did this, a friend used to say "Come in I."
I guess the more correct response would be, "It is Ted."
But then who else would it be when I was the expected knocker.

The case of agreement with the singular indefinite pronoun has closed long ago.
"Everyone should take their belongings with them."
It was "Everyone should take his belongings with him" when we were a male oriented pronoun society. Then the awkward "Everyone should take his/her belongings with him/her." I went so far as to create 'hir' a portmanteau of his/her and 's/he' a portmanteau of he/she because I didn't like the change from the monosyllabic pronoun to the awkward double syllable cacophonous him/her or he/she and which comes first. So confusing. So in the end we just said to Hel with it use the third person plural and be done with it. We can just recast so many sentences, now, Mr Safire.

It probably isn't worth another diatribe on the demise of the Harvard comma. Or even the ruse of not ending a sentence with a preposition, which is impossible since it would be an adverb, duh. To be a preposition it has to be followed by a noun or pronoun, not a period, exclamation, or question mark.

I can just say I love reading my children and grand-children's email as it is so user friendly in its lingua franca way. As for the other forms of communication, email is my limit in the electronic world. Postcards, my compromise to letters, F2F, and cell work better for this old geezer.

I can't even imagine my grandfather's reaction to language today. This is the man, whom I loved madly, would return my letters to me corrected. Eventually he gave up when I was having fun with apostrophes and the homonyms, as he said, "Don't be a stupid ass, Teddy."  I try to live by this advice, it is hard.

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