Wednesday, October 3, 2012

English and borrowing

…The computer connection with this one is that it comes from Mr Verb, a language / linguistics blog that is in my feed reader, filed in the language folder. Still, items like this signal the CLW's return to language topics. 
Got a request to comment on the source of this quote ... now available on t-shirts, etc. It's famous but I couldn't remember offhand when the message came where it was from. As many readers will recall faster than I did, it's from Jame Nicoll and widely quoted (see here). The full quote, which floats around in a set of variants, is richer:

"The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that the English language is as pure as a crib-house whore. It not only borrows words from other languages; it has on occasion chased other languages down dark alley-ways, clubbed them unconscious and rifled their pockets for new vocabulary."
No idea what the original form was, but that one's pretty good. And English hasn't really stolen much grammar, in the usual senses of the term.

Read more at English and borrowingI'd add here that computers and the internet expand "borrowing" (or mugging other language for vocabulary)…and that it is a two way exchange, more like marketing that mugging. Is there a difference other than one of perspective? A topic for another time ~ language imperialism and cultural domination/ survival. Read Spenser about Ireland. At any rate, there are a lot of language and language learning feeds in the reader. Expect to see more showing up here.

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