Prescriptivists, part II

June 26, 2008

Ironically, in reference to my recent post, I noticed today’s cartoon from the New Yorker…

A bold move!




June 26, 2008

As many of you know, prescriptivists have it out to preserve our language, as if people are “killing” it.  What exactly are they, the people, “killing?”  And how is this thing, language, being killed?  These are, unsurprisingly, the same people that say that “black English is bad, poor, and unsophisticated English.”  Ironically, these people can’t tell you when English was “perfect,” so to speak.  The 50’s?  40’s?  30’s?  1800?  Because guess what?  I’m almost 100 percent certain that in those mentioned dates, people were saying the exact same thing: “Oh my child is speaking this nonsense and improper English!  Where on earth are they getting this?  I’m trying my best to teach them proper English!”  Surprise.  What a beautiful concept.  Language evolution.  

This stems from a recent prescriptivist blog I accidentally came across: language and grammar.  This guy (Paul, I presume) has this idea that wanna speakers are lazy and that

Wanna isn’t a word; it’s a verbal laziness, same as the non-wordgonna. It started as only a spoken error,…

I need clarification of what “being a word” means.  Is it in the dictionary (and I’m referring to a REAL dictionary, i.e., Oxford English Dictionary)?  A quick look tells me it is (NOTE: a quick Google search on both words, wanna and gonna, both reveal an average of 222,500,000 hits  Moreover, when you do the search, there is a link at the top that allows you to go to a definition.  Go figure).  So, I guess we can scratch that out.  Is it spoken and understood by more people than just your local friends?  Seems to me to be the case.  Can we produce some awkward sentences with this “word”?  Yes sir we can.  

  1. Who do you want to feed the dog?
  2. *Who do you wanna feed the dog?
  3. I’m going to New York.
  4. *I’m gonna New York.

These examples show we know something inherent about this word and its usage possibilities.  It’s not so “haphazard” and/or “lazy”, as Paul (and many other prescriptivists out there!) seems to suggest.  

Prescriptivists will stick by their decisions because they claim they’re “saving our language.”  From what?  Furthermore, I don’t care what they claim because the most annoying thing about them (yes, I’m referring to ALL of you) is the following: I will bet every penny I have and all of my possessions that if you were to follow a prescriptivist all day–and I mean you are right there next to him/her listening to every word from sun up to sun down–they will say MANY constructions that they are so vehemently against.  Why do you think that is?  Simple.  Because language is so engrained in us that we use it without thinking back to what we “learned” (I’m using this term VERY loosely) in Freshman English class.  We have such a vast knowledge of language that it requires no thinking.  And when I say we “know” a language, I’m referring to everything about a language–the semantics, phonology, syntax, et cetera.  And for those who know anything about linguistics will know that reasons for constructions such as wanna and gonna are hugely phonological in reason.

One last thing.  On the matter of “laziness,” why does the author use other contractions such as isn’t, it’s we’re?  Oh, let me take a guess: because they’re words!  And maybe because they use an apostrophe?  🙂

Define “word”.

The Lady Brizendine

January 16, 2007

The mess with Dr. Louann Brizendine on LanguageLog has prompted be to accidentally fall upon this article in the New York Times Magazine, published 10 December 2006. The following quote is from a question about women using 20,000 words per day while men apparently use 7,000.

The real phraseology of that should have been that a woman has many more communication events a day — gestures, words, raising of your eyebrows.

I think it’s a pretty weak Q & A session, but that’s just me and my criticalness towards this matter. But what they hey…we’re all entitled to our opinions, whether ignorant or not. She’s very opinionated, so I, too, will be opinionated (after all, two wrongs may not make a right, but it makes you feel better). Personally, I don’t like her looks. But I sometimes judge arrogance on looks. She could be the identical twin to a philosophy professor I once knew. She, too, was arrogant. But this is not the issue at hand. I just thought I’d give my two-cents worth of opinions.

The brief hiatus should be over…(very) soon

September 5, 2006

I need to apologize for the delay in posting. There have been many, many things happening in my life, both prior to school starting and as it started.

Many of you don’t know, but I started this year at a new school in the grad program. Therefore, there is a lot to get used to (the normal things). One of the biggest adjustments for me is the way linguistics is taught (the school of thought). Not a world of difference, but enough to make me rethink a few things. So, this has paused my writing here as I try to wrap my brain around a few (new) ideas.

As this progresses, I will write about a few problems. I’ve got one brewing right now in syntax, but I need a better understanding of this matter before I write about it. Just as a preview, it deals with T(ense) and V(erb) categories. The split between the two is slightly new to me (well, okay, pretty damn new, to be honest). I’m not saying anymore, because I may say something untrue or flat-out wrong.

So, again, sorry and there’s definitely more to come.

life 101

July 17, 2006

I found the following in an insert in the new yorker back in 2004, I believe. I can’t find that insert, but I had written all of these down. I know the insert must be in a box since there’s no way I’d throw it away, even on accident!

anyway, check ’em out. not too shabby.

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andy, andy, andy

July 17, 2006

Originally uploaded by Cogling.

Although this has nothing to do with lexical matters, it’s cute. Therefore, cute sometimes supercedes anything related to lexical matters.

Andy, sleeping in his usual awkward positions..

in my e-mail…crap

July 10, 2006

i thought this was worthy of posting only because, well, i don’t do the spam or chain thing.

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