Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Whatever happened to the English language?

A lot of debate has been generated over the last few years about English as the official language of the USA. The concern is that if [we] don't force immigrants to learn and speak English, then it may eventually get eclipsed as accepted language of communication in our nation.

According to Wilson Watson, a recently retired college professor, it may be too late. During his 35 years of teaching, he began to collect sentences used by his native speaking students. His archive includes some humorous misstatements and malapropisms, such as:
  • Some people use bad language and is not even aware of the fact.
  • Romeo and Juliet exchanged their vowels.
  • A very good thing for your health is the Arabic exercise.
  • My brother and I took a fairy across to Martha's Vineyard.
Perhaps there needs to be a movement to multiplay English as First Language (EFL) classes. You can read the whole list in the Baltimore Examiner.


Chris Roberts said...

"The concern is that if don't force immigrants to learn and speak English"

Was that intended to be irony, illustration, or oversight?

Tom said...


Uh, erm, of course it was intentional! I guess that's poetic justice, isn't it.


pregador27 said...

When I read your post "" and then Steve Lemkes' article- I thought the same thing. He is a doctor, but that article was very poorly written. I could not believe that was written by a person tied to NOBTS.

warhammer gold said...
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Keith said...

This is a running joke in our office--the misuse or mispronunciation of words. In fact, we've begun compiling a "dictionary;" included are words such as:
- "ideal" (idea)- "I have no ideal what their problem was." Or "That's a good ideal. NOTE: We heard and seen this one written on multiple occasions
- "twiced" (more than once) - She told him twiced.

I have three typed pages of this stuff. It's hilarious.

Will said...

Although English may not be the "oficial" language in the States, it is the "national" language.

Immigrants love the American ideal/dream, but they want to retain as much of their native culture as possible in order to keep their identity and avoid the identity crisis Americans have (David Wells briefly touches on this in Losing Our Virtue). And one area of keeping their cultural identity is language. Thus, language is not merely a communication issue for immigrants, but also a source of identity.

Whenever I run into Koreans who ask me if I speak Korean, and my response is, "No," they shake their heads and say, "Shame on you. You lost your Korean identity."