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May 11, 2010
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Folk who claim that languages have 'evolved' when an invalid plural or verb tense becomes commonplace, or a plural starts to be taken as a singular in the manner of many people's usage of 'data' are just making excuses.
How credible would it be if an 8 year old child started complaining that they were still due full marks and that English was 'evolving' if their teacher marked their creative writing story down because it mentioned that a character had 'writed' their name onto a guest book, or for the same character having previously 'seed' a friend doing the same?
What about the same five year old demanding full marks despite saying 'earlier that day my daddy buyed me a new pair of shoes' and what should the parent think when that kid says that her teacher had 'teached' her some new words that day? That English is 'evolving' ?
It's not progress when simplistic verb forms become commonplace, or when spellings are 'simplified', what it is is degeneration. It's a sign that education has been poor so that many many people think incorrect spellings of certain words to be correct and that society has decided to change the dictionary to match the commonest mistakes.
The end result of that is for the homogeneity of the English language, the commonality of the core spellings of related words, to disappear, for it to no longer be possible for people to look at the way a word they haven't seen before is built and to guess its meaning from other similar words in combination with context. Schoolchild errors make it into the dictionary, English becomes simplistic, the common roots of words are forgotten because they no longer look the same and the subtlety that's possible with our wonderful mongrel of a language is lost for good.
Bottom line. English is known, internationally, for it's ability to convey subtle meanings; there are half a dozen ways to say virtually anything more complex than 'the cat sat on the mat' - and in fact there are probably ways to say that, like 'the cat sprawled on the mat'.
The different ways of saying things have very very slightly different meanings, and the right choice of words makes a complex or subtle concept easily and very precisely communicable in only a few words.
The differences in the meanings that the true scholars of English, the writers and the poets, fully grasp and use to get their subtle meanings across in the most beautiful way possible, come from the origins of the words. The true meanings are to be found in the true meanings of the foreign or ancient language words that were 'borrowed' to form English.
Although each of the different words mean *roughly* the same things there are slight differences and you can only really grasp those if you've studied the language and know the roots of the words.
Those roots are no longer visible when someone has decided that it's better to forget that the five year old was never taught how to spell and that it's easier to change the dictionary so everyone spells like a five year old and the original spellings, which came from the original sources of the words and which reveal the true deeper meanings, are forever lost in the brain-dead, uneducated, mush.
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