America is ruining the English Language? by John Algeo
1. What is the central contention?
The author does not believe that American forms are ruining the English Language but rather they are expanding it.
He states that the American English and English are both different form of Old English that went on two completely different routes of change over time and he believes that American English is actually more like Old English in the verb forms that are used.
He is clearly arguing against all those people that think that America is making the English Language worse with their different words, including the Prince of Wales who said the American English was “very corrupting”.
2. What examples are used?
He tries to show that American English is more like Old English with examples such as…
· American generally retain the ‘r’ in words like “more” and “mother”
· The flat ‘a’ is generally retained in words such as “cat” “path” and “class”
· The past participle “gotten” is used as well as “got”
He tries to show that the English Language could be deemed as more conservative with examples like…
· English can clearly distinguish between a ‘t’ and ‘d’ sound
· British has retained words like “fortnight”
· In English “corn” still means “grain”
He says English changes more with the examples of all the different types of tag questions used which are mainly features of only English speech
3. What other theorists are referred to?
Francis Moore and Edwin Newman are referred to and their opinion is tossed aside by the author as they do believe that America is ruing the English Language. The author clearly does not agree with these linguists as he has the complete opposite view.
4. Important quotations…
“But judgements are…highly personal and idiosyncratic ones” This shows that the author knows that not everyone will have the same view as no person is the same. By mentioning this, he is also showing that he believes all the different judgements are important but that he still thinks he is correct.
“During its roughly 13 centuries of recorded history, English has diversified in many ways” This shows that English is a very old language so he can see why people want to preserve it but it has changed so much and has expanded suggesting its getting better.
“Both Americans and the British innovate in English pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar.” This clearly demonstrates that the author thinks that America is not ruing the English language but is in fact expanding it and making it better along with the English forms.
“The difference between American and British are not due to Americans changing from British Standard” this shows that the author does not think that American is worse as it is not changed to be different from British standards but it is in fact different as the 2 language rarely communicate to share their language.