whymzycal: A ladybug on a leaf (ladybug)
[personal profile] whymzycal posting in [community profile] fandom_grammar
In February 2015, io9 writer Lauren Davis tackled a list of “10 Things People Once Complained Would Ruin the English Language,” a fun article that explains 10 things that grammarians and other language lovers used to freak out about. Unsurprisingly, it’s easy to see parallels between past concerns and the language worries of today. Spoiler alert: English hasn’t been ruined yet, and it probably won’t be.

I really enjoyed this article because I like pretty much anything to do with language, and having a comprehensive list of the major issues brought up by “defenders of English,” self-appointed or otherwise, is useful (and not just because I sometimes find myself shaking my fist, grumbling about “damn kids” who need to “get offa my lawn” with their “abuses against our mother tongue”—it’s good to have a reminder that English is a living language and has weathered so-called threats in the past without changing beyond all recognition).

My favorite sections address the printing press, cheap paper (yes, cheap paper was once considered a threat to English, much like texting today, Davis notes), and foreign loanwords, which we’ve tackled several times here on Fandom Grammar.

Each item in this extended list is concise and accessible, and Davis does her readers a favor by including links to additional articles with more information on the subjects she discusses, as well as referencing a few nifty books on the history of English. The Adventure of English by Melvyn Bragg is one I’ve read in the past and found to be both informative and entertaining, so that’s something else to like about this version of “10 Things”—Davis clearly has good taste.

I didn’t really find anything to dislike or get huffy over in this article, and it’s worth the few minutes it takes to read through it. If you’re at all interested in the ongoing (and ever repeating) arguments about what’s going to ruin English beyond all recognition—but rarely manages to do more than change it, sometimes a little and sometimes quite a bit, often for the better—I highly recommend having a look.

If, after you’ve read the article, you’re interested in seeing more of these kinds of issues and how we’ve explored them here, take a look at our colloquial language, English dialects, and loaned words tags.

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