Tuesday, September 7, 2010

English Preposition

As a history major, I find out a lot of interesting things. Some of these things are interesting only to me. I doubt you care about ancient uses of pigs. On the other hand, there are things that seem to happen over and over again, of which pointing out does grab some interest. We make too many rules, and then get angry when the rules never actually work.

The best example is in the English language. Lets keep in mind, it is the big language in the world right now. There are all sorts of versions of English in this world. Just because a guy from Seattle and a Lady from Scotland speak the same language, doesn't mean they will understand each other.

English is an old Germanic language that slowly changed to what we know today. In the original tongue, Þe meant the. That strange letter is pronounced Th but looks a lot like a y. This is why you see Ye on signs whenever someone is trying to say something is old.

Seeing as English really is that old, there are some problems that no one wants to admit. Around the 12th century, the world was dominated by Latin. This meant that the smart people were all speaking Latin to each other, to show off how smart they really were. This wouldn't be too bad, but these same smart people started demanding that English follow the same rules. Keep in mind that Latin and German are completely different languages, and that trying to combine them creates a huge amount of confusion. This is coming from a kid who grew up speaking a Spanish/German mix as a kid. I still get headaches trying to figure out if a De means The or Of.

The Latin rule that gets misused too often into our language is prepositions. The word and idea are Latin and demand that a sentence never end in one. It never actually caught on, but the smart people kept demanding we follow this rule. This is not a joke, if it had caught on, then no one would ever correct another persons grammar on it. The English language has had so many people try to control it that the language itself is very confusing.

What gets my goat, is that the word for people who are constantly correcting English is Grammar Nazi. First, the word Nazi is a horrible thing to call anything. Germans in the US have huge festivals called Oktoberfest just to get everyone to stop calling them that word. Yet, Grammar Nazis are sort of proud that they know the rules so well. What is worse is that it is a completely incorrect name. They are correcting the Latin ideals of English, not the German common speech of everyone around them. Was sprache die?

Don't believe me? Here is a link to the Book of Mormon written in Dutch. It's OK to not know everything that is written, but I am sure you would notice that some of it looks and feels Pidgen. I could point to similar languages, where it seems almost like someone was speaking a Pidgen German instead of Swedish or Norwegian.

English changes as it wants to, and yes, gets new words all the time. Shakespeare is famous for creating all sorts of new words and ideas within his plays. Yet, today, if someone does the same thing, we call it stupid and make fun of the person. Keep in mind, these will likely be words that will be in the common speech soon enough. So to the Grammar Nazis who are ultimately ignoring the true rules of English just to make themselves look big, the word is actually Grammatist. Spell check doesn't even believe the word is real, but if you want English to be Latin, then you have to follow the rules completely.

1 comment:

  1. I believe the word is Grammarian not Grammatist, isn't it?