Evolution of Language
panis at PACBELL.NET
Mon May 31 13:27:32 UTC 2004
There was a discussion last week on the Latinteach list about correct
English grammar, in particular about split infinitives. I forwarded
off-list to Arnold Zwicky from that thread the message pasted below
and he urged me to share it with the rest of ADS-l. So, for your
>Hello, all. I am a former Latin teacher working on getting back
into teaching. Just thought I'd chime in on this one.
>I've only taken a couple of classes that were specifically about
analytical or historical linguistics. However, it seems to me
that it is the nature of language to be in a constant state of
gradual change. The interesting thing is that this process seems
to take its course without regard to what grammarians would do
to alter it.
>It's like an enormous blob creeping over the linguistic countryside.
> When the brave Grammarians, armed with their prescriptive
rules, go out to meet the oncoming ooze, they are powerless against
it. Those who hold their ground are consumed by the gigantic mass,
becoming crystallized granules within its body.
> Those who see the inevitable hastily withdraw and reevaluate
the battle plan. Before long, they emerge from their council and
declare a truce! It turns out that the blob is a friend, and that
it had the right-of-way all along. As a tribute to this new accord,
they will build a new town in a new location, one that can exist
harmoniously with their new ally.
> Peace and order reign for a time, until, "Oh, no!" The blob
is discovered to have been an enemy all along, and it is encroaching
upon the village once more.
>That's how I see it anyway.
*** John McChesney-Young ** panis at pacbell.net ** Berkeley,
California, U.S.A. ***
More information about the Ads-l