Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Who mourns for English?

Americans mutilating English is bad enough: Indians copying them in the hope that that would make them sound smarter is worse.

Fundamentally it is a problem of poor vocabulary coupled with laziness of mind. Americans habitually pick on a few words and ruin them through gross – and meaningless – overuse. Something in the way their brains are wired – of course there are intelligent and learned Americans, but the average fellow, and that’s the one that the average Indian, being at the same mental level, copies, is sadly deficient, and it is that average American who has been mutilating and desiccating the language for a long time.

Once they picked on the verb ‘get’. They insisted that we forget every verb other than get if possible. So one got born, one got admitted to school, one got through one’s examinations, one got older, one got a job, one got married, one got children, one got promoted, one got retired, one got old, got sick, got dead and got buried. Who cares to learn more verbs if one can make do with just one? Who cares if that makes one sound like a yokel, now that most people have become yokels?

Now it is the turn of need. Talk to any American – or Indian born American clone – and you will see you ‘need to’ do everything. Now you may need to go to the loo, but why should someone else tell you so, instead of just ‘Go to the loo’? And the way they throw it about right and left is, to use another of their very dear adjectives, truly amazing. A policeman tells a thief he has just caught ‘You need to come to the station with me’. For heaven’s sake! The man, if he needs to do anything at all, needs to run away, not accompany the policeman to jail! And teachers tell pupils ‘You need to rewrite your assignment’ when it is the teacher who needs that done because the first effort is crap or just illegible; the pupils needs to avoid the extra work if he can, but who will educate the teacher? And who will tell her that only a few years ago people knew so many other more appropriate words, such as must and should and ought to?

Which brings to my mind the idiotic way they are using the pronoun ‘them’ these days. ‘If anyone asks you for directions, tell them you don’t know’. If them can be used like this, what is the point of keeping aside a special pronoun for being used exclusively as a plural? For hundreds of years it was possible to write ‘… tell him’ without being accused of being sexist; if we wanted to be specific about gender, we simply wrote ‘… tell her’ in case it was definitely a female we were talking about, or ‘… tell him or her’ if we wanted to leave that unspecified; so what has suddenly become the problem? And if you don’t want to get into a bind over this, why can’t you rework the sentence into something like this: ‘If anyone asks you for directions, say that you don’t know’? There is a limit to how far political correctness can be pushed to cloak simple stupidity. Are we eventually going to write huperson beings, or just hu beings?

I have written earlier about how words like revert and good (‘I’m good’) are being misused these days. Not by all, certainly not by all – I still see the best writers being mindful about correct usage. But with semi-literate schoolteachers and retarded journos swarming about like fungi in wet weather, the beautiful language is in danger of being gutted, that’s for sure. You may look this up too if you like.

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