HOW LANGUAGES (don’t) EVOLVE


Simply by clicking on this page, you have incriminated yourself by admitting sympathy with the myth of “global linguistic evolution”!   In this article we shall refute this theory entirely, by using evidence that is in front of everyone’s very own eyes, and beside our ears!

“Oh yeah!”, a descriptivist would say, in a stoned feminist voice. “Before 3000BC there was an original language called Proto-PIE or something, like, somewhere around Asia Minor (Turkey) and then its speakers just ‘migrated’ somehow, as far as India and Britain.”

But where is his evidence?    European and Indian languages may share a few (coincidental) similarities, but writing was in its infancy 5,000 years ago. Nobody wrote this “Proto-Indo-European” down, which means there is no evidence!

The evidence, however, for the opposing argument is strong. The Christian Bible reports that a Great Tower was built at Babel (Babylon) and God did like it not!



Babel [pd] & globe [pd]

Book of Genesis,
King James Version of the Bible (1611)

(We have taken the liberty of correcting the grammatical errors.   This shows just how important it is to read through your work before handing it in!   Otherwise you look clueless, whereas our version at least looks acceptable.   “Journey” appears here as a verb, presumably an Americanism.)
And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.
And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
And the whole earth was of one language, and of one accent. And It came to pass, as they made a journey from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar (?); and they dwelled there.
And They said to one another, Go on, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and they had slime for mortar. And they said, Go to(?!?), let us build us selves a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. 

And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children built. And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do; and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one anothers speech. 

And The Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the adults were building. And The Lord said, Behold, the persons is one, and they all have one language; and they begin to do_this; and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Come on(?), let us go down descend, and, whilst there, confound their language, so that they may not understand one anothers speech. 

So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth. 

So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the Earth; and they left off to build the city. Therefore it is called by the name of Babel, because the Lord confounded the language of all the earth there: and, from there, the Lord scattered them abroad upon the face of all the earth. 

So, it was Grammar God (as we should call him) who created the languages.    Our hectic modern world may find Bible stories superstitious, but this is the first piece of evidence I found, and therefore the most reliable!   Besides, we need no longer call this the Babel theory”; its now known as Wrathful Dispersion” and is one of the most important developments in linguistic theory for years, probably.    Why are we the only persons who are excited by this idea whilst everyone else ignores it?


We have slime as well
We may analyse English in a similar way.  The Proper English Foundation is naturally inclined to be-lieve that, if languages evolve at all, they do so at their own pace.  But what is the correct pace?   And who the pacemaker?

To determine this, we look right to the top: the Monarch!    It is perfectly natural for the speakers of a language to look up to a King, as he is Grammar Gods representative on Earth.    And the system of Monarchical leadership of language is now mature: it has been in place for thousands of years, and the King’s English was always the Standard respected by any sophisticated person.    Henry VIII spoke with a Cockney accent and was highly respected and imitated by all – such was the way of things!

Erm... Except that things are not so simple.   The Hanoverians (from 1714 onwards) decided that the King should speak English as though he had a cockroach stuck halfway up his rectum.    This was a laudable idea but the accent is very hard to imitate as you can tell if you try it!    Therefore, the English of the “educated” people was instead chosen as the Standard Accent and Standard Language.  This decision was made by those same well-educated persons, who knew how clear and good their own English was.

Ever since, we have continued to respect the King’s way of speaking and combating vermin, and we have no plans to exterminate regional accents as they “add local colour”, whatever that means, but one cannot expect a normal person to talk that way!    A normal person imitates the Best Way of speaking and writing, and, without wanting to embarrass them, it is obvious that the Queen’s English Society write and speak English that is simply better, more complicated, more easily understandable and more educated than that of anybody else!  (I think they say as much on their website.)  If I may be so bold, I should like to suggest that they re-name themselves the Queen’s English Society’s English Society; their English would put even the Queen’s own English to shame.
But then they let themselves down by writing: at some time in the future, it will probably again become the Kings English[1], which is a hideous piece of fate-tempting and is almost treasonous.   Disgraceful.
1066-1362: Low-class English
The centuries around 1000AD are often called the age of “Old English”, but we PEF members know in our hearts that English had already existed for thousands of years before Christ.   It was just a bit of a quiet language at that time, but we should not judge it harshly for this.   English is now a perfect language, when used well!, but between the 11th and 14th centuries anarchy ruled and things were chaotic, as English commoners refused to speak the King’s language!  How very rude.

When William the Conqueror slaughtered people up and down the country, he did this because he wanted them to speak the good, clear Norman language like him.  Unfortunately, the low-class peasants refused to take the necessary evening classes, and continued to speak English because they were so low-class (not lower: just “low”).  Even the kings failed to do their homework, because very soon the monarch’s language had evolved into Anglo-Norman due to evil, and Edward III switched back to English in 1362.

So, one could say that English spent 300 years being controlled by paupers, and that the language was infected forever by their slovenly speech!   But actually, in this case, the low-class people were heroes for standing up to those tyrannical monarchs.   Eventually, however, English was returned to its rightful owners (grammarians and monks) so that we could start criticising peasant-speak once again.  “He was”?  No, surely it should be “he were”.   Evidently you know nothing.
 
The QES ſhew us how to freeze
The QES Academy was set up with the aim of Preserving Good English while moving with the times, but the group’s pronouncements suggest that they aren’t living in the same times as everyone else.
In fact, there is much evidence that they really would like to freeze the language”.   They do not believe this, so the following list is more for their benefit than anybody elses:

– The QES mention that
 Jonathan Swift proposed an English academy in the 18th century, with the aim of creating an unchanging language. [2][3]
  They make no further comment.  They neglect to add that nobody in the history of the world has frozen a language in time, which makes the QES look even sillier than Swift for tacitly supporting his idea 300 years after it failed.   It is not that the Queen’s English Society want to stop words from being invented, you understand; but would it not be nice?   Besides, as good as Swift’s Propoſal for Correcting, Improving and Aſcertaining the Engliſh Tongue was, he did not have a website, whereas the QES do, and thus they will be much more successful.

– The Academy mention the dictionary compiled by Dr Samuel Johnson, but not that  Johnson dismissed Swift’s academy idea.

– The QES then quote from Bishop Robert Lowth
’s “Short” guide to English grammar (183 pages), a book that was easily appropriated by pedants.    In the interest of honesty and fun, we repeat the quoted section here, in its original form:

“The principal deſign of a grammar of any language is to teach us to expreſs ourſelves with propriety in that language; and to enable us to judge of every phraſe and form of construction, whether it be right or not. The plain way of doing this is, to lay down rules, and to illuſtrate them by examples. But, beſide ſhewing what is right, the matter may be further explained by pointing out what is wrong. (our emphasis) [4]

Yes, yes, “pointing out mistakes”: a coded message that the QES should fight a crusade, do Lowth’s bidding, blah blah blah*.  The most eye-catching thing here is not what he had to say, but the language used:  the beautiful long S, ſ, not to be confused with f (thank goodness he didn’t write “successors”), and Lowth’s preferred spelling of “showing”, ſhewing”.
At the time, ſhow” could also be spelled as ſhew”, with the past tenses ſhewed” and ſhewn”.  And Lowth doth write “doth”, and “thou”, and “ye”  it was 1762, so of course he used those words  but pointing out that English has visibly changed weakens the QESs argument that languages don’t need to evolve, so we shan’t.
(They actually do so themselves, claiming that aſcertaining used to mean standardising[2][3])

B******isations
But never mind all this evidence; the finest weapon in our arsenal is scaremongering and arrogance, as any good prescriptivist knows.   The only way to avoid linguistic corruptions (also known as “b******isations” or “changes”, but corruptions sounds scarier) is by prescribing rules to other people, as the QES do:

“It is fairly obvious to anyone with a ‘feel’ for the language that the ‘prescriptivist’ version is immeasurably less clumsy and more elegant.  However,[...]Through a process of osmosis, the ‘prescriptivist’ language, in time, absorbs elements of the ‘descriptivist’.  This is what is loosely called the ‘evolution’ of the language.” [5]

Or to put it another way, we “control” the “language” and will go to the grave before “we” accept anything that “challenges” what we think is right.   One example is the phrase “It’s me”; the QES would insist we say “It is I” or even It’s I – anything but allow a corruption!
Unfortunately, they spoil their own argument by calling change “a process of osmosis”.  What they really mean is much less scientific  “a process of the old phrase becoming so ridiculous or archaic that it’s no longer credible to use it”  so they’ve corrupted the word osmosis!

So go to, talk freely and don’t worry about corruptions.  Not all change is to everyone’s taste (you don’t have to embrace every new word), but some change is inevitable, and we’re all part of it.  On the one hand, we no longer understand our Saxon place names, but on the other we have a richer language because of corruptions. Without medieval corruptions in various regions, English might have used the same word for deft and daftglimmer/glitter/glisten, and shirt and skirt.[6]

In many ways, corruptions are the history of language.  But, whether linguistic evolution is real or not, we at the Proper English Foundation would feel much more secure if we were in a position of power over this marvellous English language  so you have nothing to lose by accepting the Académie von anglais as your leader.   Follow us and join our crusade!   Together we will be able to make a few young people feel bad about using certain relatively-new words, and that will help the language how??!

(Answer to follow.)


See also
The split infinitive, invented by Robert Lowth
Better reading
– Ideology, Power and Linguistic Theory, Geoffrey K Pullum (PDF)
– The Rise of Prescriptivism in English, Dr Shadyah AN Cole (PDF)





















































(*This is Latin and therefore an acceptable phrase)
 

 

Make a Free Website with Yola.