Barbaric, backwards ancestor worship


The fetishization of "correct" English -- which is to say, white, wealthy English -- is in direct opposition to everything that makes English such a glorious drunkard's debauch of a language.

English came to us from the inventive malapropism and linguistic entrepreneurship of its speakers: from Shakespeare, who coined words wholesale; to the working-class streets with their heterodox cursing and rhyming slangs.

To demand the immobilization of this restless, incontinent language is a form of barbaric and backwards ancestor-worship. When the Michael Goves of this world tell "language" teachers that their job is to teach the kids in my neighbourhood to forego their innits and I wasn'ts and nuffinks, he is engaging in a kind of linguistic lapsarianism:

"Our ancestors lived in a state of grace and purity and were able to bend the language to suit their needs. Now we are fallen from grace and we must hew to the margins they set, because they -- and only they -- were qualified to expand the map of expressive speech beyond the edge of the page. Every way of speaking not established by our exalted ancestors exists in a terra incognita and none of us are qualified to reach it. There be dragons. Shelter here in what remains of English -- and England -- and don't dare take yourself beyond its borders."

Fuck that noise.

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

'The question is,' said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master -- that's all."