For hundreds of years, English has been continuously changing. Words that were unacceptable 300 years ago are now commonplace. English has always had a trademark of being a comfortable language, the language of the common people (MacNeil 143). Change in the grammar and diction of a language is natural, and English is always confronted with changes. Among them are the use of slang, clipped word endings, and new dialects. Some Conservatives do not like changes because they claim that standard English is a perfect language; they do not want to corrupt it. Others simply do not like change. Neither group of Conservatives has any new arguments, and nothing to fear from change.
Slang worries Conservatives the most because it affects the vocabulary of English. American English, especially, is always adding new words to its vocabulary for social, scientific, or artistic reasons. The scientific and artistic words do not bother these people; only the social, or slang, words do. Slang is usually created by children or teens who seek social status (Morrow 137). Because kids are the source of new slang, some adults look down on it with the assumption that kids are unintelligent and simply rebelling against established English grammar and diction. However, most of the adults did the same thing when they were children. Adults have been frowning on slang for generations (Crystal 104).
Conservatives also look down upon slang because slang is not used by people of high status. If they hear someone speaking in Jive, they will be angry because Jive is not the way that high class people speak. People who do not like slang are usually prejudiced as well. They do not want to hear other ways of talking because it deviates from the way they talk. Also, much slang comes from other languages, of which Conservatives might also be prejudiced. The dialect that a person uses may make him comfortable, but this is not considered. If a language is not comfortable, why would you want to speak it?
Language has always changed to fit the paradigms of society (Crystal 105). For example, in Shakespeare's time, many contractions used today were considered poor English. Rarely could a person of high social status be found using "don't" in a sentence. Today, however, people may use contractions without fear of being scorned by society. This simply illustrates The same types of people who opposed contractions in the past are opposing slang and new dialects of English. They do not realize that the way they speak differs from the way that their predecessors spoke. People opposed to language change only defend their dialect, which will die out anyway, and prove their intolerance of change.
Language will be thought of differently in the future because new mediums of communication will be used, the largest one being the Internet. Today, many people are using the Internet to "talk" to people all over the world. The Internet has its own language, which Conservatives view as computer slang. No matter what diction or dialect you speak, you still have to type out an Internet message in standard Internet. There are words used specifically for the Internet, usually acronyms that are universally understood, that will probably appear in dictionaries in the future. Conservatives have no reason to bother with whether a person's dialect or diction will be understood in spoken language, because most communication will be typed, not spoken, in a neutral Internet language.
Conservatives claim that the lack of standard English is due to an education deficiency. They explain that the reason some slang is created by kids in inner-city areas is that the kids drop out of school, because the kids are stupid, and therefore never learn standard English. In reality, the kids drop out of school because they are told that the way they speak is stupid (Seymour 123). The Conservatives are not willing to help the kids with "bad" dialects. Perhaps this is because of a prejudice, sort of "once slang, always slang" mentality. The Conservatives should use the kids' dialects to help the kids learn standard English.
Conservatives have one reason to oppose language progression: fear. Conservatives have a fear that the language they speak will not be the primary one. For this reason, they will put down other dialects simply because these dialects are not standard English. Standard English is just another dialect, however, and thinking one dialect greater than another is mere bigotry. If Conservatives had their way, people would never be able to express themselves in new ways because there would never be any new words. There would be academies for English, academies that go against every principle of freedom to which speakers of English are heir.
Crystal, David. "The Prescriptive Tradition." Language Awareness. 4th Ed. Eds. Paul Eschholt, Alfred Rosa, Virginia Clark. New York: St. Martin's, 1986. 101-107.
MacNeil, Robert. "English Belongs to Everybody." Language Awareness. 4th Ed. Eds. Paul Eschholt, Alfred Rosa, Virginia Clark. New York: St. Martin's, 1986. 140-144.
Morrow, Lance. "If Slang is Not a Sin." Language Awareness. 4th Ed. Eds. Paul Eschholt, Alfred Rosa, Virginia Clark. New York: St. Martin's, 1986. 135-139.
Seymour, Dorothy Z. "Black Children, Black Speech" Language Awareness. 4th Ed. Eds. Paul Eschholt, Alfred Rosa, Virginia Clark. New York: St. Martin's, 1986. 122-129.
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