Wordsmith.org: the magic of words

Wordsmith Talk

About Us | What's New | Search | Site Map | Contact Us  

Page 1 of 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 >
Topic Options
#206043 - 06/12/12 05:49 PM No hollow phrases
BranShea Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/23/06
Posts: 5282
Loc: Netherlands, the Hague
Two quoted parts from the book "From Dawn to Decadence" 1500 to the Present, by Jaques Barzun.

On the influence and the cultural consequences of the downhill dance of "correct" spelling and writing.

The loss of grammar and the dogma that anything said is to be treated with respect due to life itself have had the further cultural effect of encouraging the natural carelesness
of talk; it even made it an asset: a new president of the United States in 1988 gained in popularity when he was found halting in speech and loose in grammar. In the same spirit, the linguists attack anybody who speaks up for saving threatened meanings and especially distinctions among words. This rebuke is paradoxal, since as scientists they should remain neutral toward influences acting on language. That it is a social institution for exchanging thoughts and at its best when its terms remain clear, as in the sciences and other technical fields, does not seem to be a part of the linguistic creed, nor that language has aesthetic powers and uses that also depend on conversation.

As for the life in language, that phrase is not science, but metaphor. Language is not alive, only those who use it have life, and when they stop speaking it, their language, if written, remains whole, readable and usable like classical Greek and Latin. To decide whether the living users should be encouraged to preserve or to tamper, one must judge by results. Establishing a standard spelling abolished the old democratic right to follow one's own fancy, and the result is that we can still read with relative ease the literature of the last 500 years. During that same time the vocabulary has suffered losses and changes, the increase in distinctions being much for the good; while the losses and confusions, many due to ignorance in a world of illiterates, were not then cheered along by specialists. The present order of things is not likely to keep the written word readable for another five centuries. But, it is only fair to add that the laxity now favored and fostered came in parallel with the poets' games with vocabulary and syntax in the Nineteen nineties, a recreation soon taken up by the writers of prose, and pursued in the 2OC by advertisers, journalists, and corporate managers.

From Dawn to Decadence
500 years of Western Cultural Life
J. Barzun

Top
#206044 - 06/12/12 08:51 PM bring on the empty peevers [Re: BranShea]
zmjezhd Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/13/05
Posts: 3290
Loc: R'lyeh
The loss of grammar and the dogma that anything said is to be treated with respect due to life itself have had the further cultural effect of encouraging the natural carelesness of talk

Mr Barzun, he is speaking out of his strawman's ass, of course. Grammar, like language, is neither created nor destroyed. Grammar, like language, merely changes. This sends the angstful, both young and old, into a tizzy fit, but hey, all the tizzy fits in the world cannot unchange a changed grammar or language.
_________________________
Ceci n'est pas un seing.

Top
#206049 - 06/13/12 03:52 AM Re: No hollow phrases [Re: zmjezhd]
BranShea Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/23/06
Posts: 5282
Loc: Netherlands, the Hague
Yes I know you are one of the radicals in these matters, but it really hurts my delicate and highly sensitive feelings when in a so called "quality" respectable literary magazine (since 1837) named "The Guide", no one corrects a painful z for the s it should be. smile smirk smile

"In het bos bleven de kruizen achter".
Plural of kruis is kruisen. (kruizen looks like a verb that does not exist)

The Barzun book I find is a really nice trip through Westen World's colorful and turbulent past.

Top
#206050 - 06/13/12 08:22 AM Re: just hollow men [Re: BranShea]
zmjezhd Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/13/05
Posts: 3290
Loc: R'lyeh
"In het bos bleven de kruizen achter".
Plural of kruis is kruisen. (kruizen looks like a verb that does not exist)


I take it the -z- is pronounced like an /s/, or at least has begun to do so recently. Quoting a Frenchman peeving about English "grammar" about a Dutch orthographic peeve is a bit much even for my rootishness.
_________________________
Ceci n'est pas un seing.

Top
#206051 - 06/13/12 01:27 PM Re: just hollow men [Re: zmjezhd]
BranShea Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/23/06
Posts: 5282
Loc: Netherlands, the Hague
I take it the -z- is pronounced like an /s/, or at least has begun to do so recently

No, the -z- is pronounced like a /z/ like in easy and zoo.
Is a Frenchman who migrates to the U.S. at the age of 12, who is fully educated there and spends the rest of his life and 70 years of writing-teaching life there still a 'Frenchman'?
( he's 104 years of age and his book is a lovely swan song written in the 1990s)

Link

The essay with the word above mentioned was translated from Polish. I do not blame the translator for making a mistake, but the correctors and anchor man for carelessness.

Top
#206052 - 06/13/12 03:18 PM Re: peeve my sole [Re: BranShea]
zmjezhd Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/13/05
Posts: 3290
Loc: R'lyeh
Is a Frenchman who migrates to the U.S. at the age of 12, who is fully educated there and spends the rest of his life and 70 years of writing-teaching life there still a 'Frenchman'?

Yes. He's also a good writer and a superb critic. He just doesn't know squat about linguistics, so he should keep his misinformation to himself.
_________________________
Ceci n'est pas un seing.

Top
#206053 - 06/13/12 03:21 PM Re: peeve my sole [Re: zmjezhd]
BranShea Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/23/06
Posts: 5282
Loc: Netherlands, the Hague
I've always loved your elegant way of putting things. :~)

Top
#206054 - 06/13/12 03:28 PM Re: foo tian [Re: BranShea]
zmjezhd Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/13/05
Posts: 3290
Loc: R'lyeh
I've always loved your elegant way of putting things. :~)

You're too kind. No really. The craft of editing is just one of the casualties of our times. Maybe after the zombie apocalypse, when the population of Earth is back down under a few hundred million, things will be better in the book world.
_________________________
Ceci n'est pas un seing.

Top
#206055 - 06/14/12 05:48 AM Re: foo tian [Re: zmjezhd]
BranShea Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/23/06
Posts: 5282
Loc: Netherlands, the Hague
But, but... are we not living now? And would it not be a good idea (in any language) to give children a solid and clear grammar system so that they can play with haberdashery and fashion language as much they please and still be able to write understandable language? Here too universities must give students extra courses to repair the lack of this simple base.
My grandson told that all the grammar he really knows well, he has learned through his Latin lessons. Thus, āfter primary school. Overpopulation or general carelessness? What āre the so called 'equal opportunities' if only the privileged get a chance to learn well in secundary and higher education?

Top
#206057 - 06/14/12 06:20 AM Re: foo tian [Re: BranShea]
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
I think Nuncle's comment on editing being a casualty of our times is a comment on the regrettable fact that copy-editors seem to be among the first to go at newspapers and magazines when they decide they need to cut staff. This is often ridiculed with the glib phrase, "We don't need no copy editor, we got spell check." Of course, copy-editors do much, much more than correct misspellings. As for learning grammar in a modern European language from Latin, I don't know how it is in Nederlands but Latin grammar is a mighty poor match with English grammar. As has been pointed out we all learn the grammar of our mother tongues as small children, well before we are ready for any sort of formal training. This learning of the grammar is internalized and, while well established as an understanding of how to talk grammatically, does not give us any ability to talk rationally about it other than saying that an ungrammatical statement just doesn't sound right. For many of us the formal training either never happens or is so miserably inadequate in representing the true grammar of the language that it might as well never have happened. Learning any other language, one with a grammar sufficiently different from the grammar of one's own, at least gives us some notion about how grammars work. Any sufficiently intelligent person can then compare how this formally learned grammar works compared with the internalized grammar of their native tongue. This would work with any additional language learned formally. Languages learned in the same way as one's native language, by just being immersed in the language and forced to communicate in it, would probably not help with this. Multilingual people often learn other modern languages without formal training so it's usually Latin that gets the credit.

Top
Page 1 of 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 >

Moderator:  Jackie 
Forum Stats
8717 Members
16 Forums
13802 Topics
214497 Posts

Max Online: 3341 @ 12/09/11 02:15 PM
Newest Members
Laban, birdie, mepallav, discopig, Byz
8717 Registered Users
Who's Online
0 registered (), 42 Guests and 4 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Top Posters (30 Days)
Bazr 107
LukeJavan8 91
endymion6 88
wofahulicodoc 77
jenny jenny 64
A C Bowden 30
Faldage 7
Tromboniator 7
olly 3
tsuwm 2
Top Posters
wwh 13858
Faldage 13803
Jackie 11609
tsuwm 10514
Buffalo Shrdlu 7210
AnnaStrophic 6511
LukeJavan8 6313
Wordwind 6296
of troy 5400
BranShea 5282

Disclaimer: Wordsmith.org is not responsible for views expressed on this site. Use of this forum is at your own risk and liability - you agree to hold Wordsmith.org and its associates harmless as a condition of using it.

Home | Today's Word | Yesterday's Word | Subscribe | FAQ | Archives | Search | Feedback
Wordsmith Talk | Wordsmith Chat

© 2014 Wordsmith