Saturday, 1 September 2007

The decline of English

We do not have the equivalent of the Academie Française for our language. That is because it is based on usage. Which means that Humpty Dumpty rules.

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in a rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."

Or, worse, Mrs Malaprop.

The word "enormity" used to mean "monstrous wickedness" and was therefore useful to describe unusual events such as the holocaust. Now, thanks to its overuse by the media, it just means "very big".

Here is the latest example I have come across of how words get twisted out of shape

"I wasn't going to hit him back," he said. "I was just afraid that I was going to be implemented in all of this."

I have italicised the solecism. Its source is second hand. Randy Cassingham's "THIS is TRUE: 26 August 2007 (Copyright) But he was quoting The Lake County News-Sun - which I will bet did not even notice. Cassingham said he did but regards it as "part of the fun". I don't. I can now see a day when the word "implicated" means something else - like covered in chocolate sprinkles, or something.

I suppose that makes me a humourless pedant. But there is no doubt that the language is being degraded through a combination of poor education and mass media that has no standards regarding language worth speaking of - unless it is to worry about swearing before 9pm.

And if you haven't heard of Cassingham

Randy Cassingham, Online Publisher since the Internet Dark Ages (1994)

1 comment:

sgt.turmeric said...

The Eggcorn Database. Many of these baffle me. Most of them just make me sad. If this makes me a humourless pedant then so be it.