Death of Language in Perú and the world

Samuel Johnson by Joshua Reynolds (1772)

Samuel Johnson (18 September 1709 [O.S. 7 September] – 13 December 1784) “arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history”. He was as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer, a devout Anglican and committed Tory,whose later works included essays, an influential annotated edition of William Shakespeare’s plays, and the widely read tale The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia (which actually discusses his personal happiness), (Rogers, Pat (2006), “Johnson, Samuel (1709–1784)”, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.), Oxford University Press, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/14918) worked at saving the English language.

Académie Française (Paris)

A similar action at approximately the same time was undertaken by the Académie Française that had forty scholars {known as known as immortels who held their post for life (Academie Française official website. http://www.academie-francaise.fr/immortels/index.html). It publishes a dictionary of the French language, known as the Dictionnaire de l’Académie française {the last edition was published in 1935}, which is regarded as official in France}  spending forty years to complete its dictionary.  Fortunately, for the French, popular/fad/temporary words have been rejected. the Académie has recommended, with mixed success, that some vulgar slang words from English {such as walkman, software and email) have been avoided, in favour of words derived from French (baladeur, logiciel, and courriel respectively}). 

With the explosion of knowledge and the rapid increase in printing of books, popular expressions drove away comprehensive knowledge in quest of obtaining immediate financial gain. Such an explosion of the printed word however led to misunderstandings so that people within the same community could not understand each other, and cities and town and borough became isolated by jargon, colloquialisms, and bad language as books were printed not to disseminate knowledge or advance learning, but as with MM Publications today who mangle the English language with the valueless volumes of the books issued for a farcical International Baccalaureate degree (in the IB Programme), there became a heated demand among and from a few philologists and grammarians coupled with a growing clamour among teachers to establish rules of grammar, word use, spelling, capitalisation, punctuation, and all other fields that form oral discourse and written composition for a set pattern of grammar, definition, and spelling for those words. Dr. Johnson (as he was universally known). 

Dictionaries existed before that of Dr. Johnson, but they were cheap and base books printed who velleity was apparent to most and no guerdon in sight, as with today’s Macmillan Company and even the once reputable Oxford and Cambridge dictionaries.  None reflects quality and precision in the English language–what is occurring today everywhere (not only in English but even in Spanish, where a few self-appointed “scholars” are working to change the rules of grammar to meet the fad of vulgar (street) language enthusiasts quick to ape popular music such as that of the 1960s Beatles and various “rap” groups from “Daddy Yankee” to “Snoopy Dog” and other

Noah Webster

groups who have brutally bastarised the English language one more time.  This is not unique in the USA or other native-English speaking nations such as Canada, the UK, Australia, South Africa, Singapore, India, and on today, for it has been that way since civilisations began as even Noah Webster (1758-1843), the author of the first American dictionary, saw a marked decline in the English language and wrote out against its lack of rules, as Webster was a fervent American nationalist, was without hesitancy in pointing out in the most graphic and precise language of his day, recorded the fall of other one-time great empires (while not realizing how far the USA would fail by the advent of the alleged-Republic and the illiterate forces in Congress and State Legislatures who would further damage the language):

America sees the absurdities–she sees the kingdoms of Europe, disturbed by wrangling sectaries, or their commerce, population and improvements of every kind cramped and retarded, because the human mind like the body is fettered ‘and bound fast by the chords of policy and superstition’: She laughs at their folly and shuns their errors: She founds her empire upon the idea of universal toleration: She admits all religions into her bosom; She secures the sacred rights of every individual; and (astonishing absurdity to Europeans!) she sees a thousand discordant opinions live in the strictest harmony … it will finally raise her to a pitch of greatness and lustre, before which the glory of ancient Greece and Rome shall dwindle to a point, and the splendor of modern Empires fade into obscurity.

(Ellis, Joseph J (1979). After the Revolution: Profiles of Early American Culture New York: Norton. chapter 6, interpretive essay p. 170)  Compare this with Johnson in: Hitchings, Henry (2005). Dr Johnson’s Dictionary: The Extraordinary Story of the Book that Defined the World. London: John Murray, p. 225). A group of London booksellers who still believed in a quality language with rules so that everyone could read, write and speak coherently, cogently, and correctly, and experiencing a growing dissatisfaction with the dictionaries of the period  approached Dr. Johnson in June 1746 and offered Johnson a contract to write a dictionary for the princely sum of 1,500 guineas (£1,575), equivalent to about £230,000 as of 2011,  produced the Dictionary of the English Language

Samuel Johnson checking for the correct use of the English Language

Dr. Johnson knew that there had to be standards–a reality that is denounced by psuedointellectuals (ψευδο-διανοούμενοι), inadequate teachers and lazy students. Johnson, however, had the unsolicited patronage of Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield. Chesterfield, a man without interest in self-promotion or public  praise, was interested only Johnson’s abilities (unlike most contemporary academic deans, directors of language departments, faculty, and even members of Parliament (Lane, Margaret. Samuel Johnson & his World. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1975, p. 118). Seven years after first meeting Johnson to discuss the work, Chesterfield wrote two anonymous essays in The World that recommended the Dictionary. He argued that the English language was lacking structure and complaining:

We must have recourse to the old Roman expedient in times of confusion, and chose a dictator. Upon this principle, I give my vote for Mr Johnson to fill that great and arduous post (ibid., p. 121).

Johnson was offended by the comment, because Chesterfield, like so many academic deans, directors of language centers, presidents of universities offered no encouragement (moral, oral, or financial) while Johnson was struggling with his work. Instead received derisive calls and notes denouncing him as trying to become a demigod in charge of transmogrifying the advance of language by rejecting the plurality of definitions for the same word, pretending that synonyms were equal and identical whereas in reality they only offered modest similarities but were not twins to the word in questions. For example there are marked differences between the words look, stare, glare, glance, see, watch, and so forth–none of them have the same meaning or import. To this end, Johnson took from Jonathan Swift’s poem “Opulence” the words Wealth; riches; affluence, and showed their difference.  About his own vocation, Johnson defined lexicographer as ” a writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge that busies himself in tracing the original and detailing the signification of words” (see a copy of the original Johnson dictionary online for this entry at http://www.archive.org/stream/dictionaryofengl02johnuoft#page/n37/mode/2up)

Dr. Johnson’s dictionary was published in 1755 after he completed a painstaking nine years of work of research compilation and writing. The dictionary had a far-reaching effect on Modern English and has been described as “one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship” (Bate, Walter Jackson (1977), Samuel Johnson, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, p. 240.).  Johnson’s dictionary, however, remained the stellar accomplishment in the English-speaking world for 150 years, and was not replaced until the Oxford English Dictionary appeared 150 years later, Johnson’s was viewed as the pre-eminent British dictionary. Regretfully, all things pass and disappear, and today, by Oxford incorporating words that never existed and have no etymological basis, but because of the current and temporary popularity of the speaker, the Oxford English Dictionary is falling into disrepute and can no longer be trusted to be a solid source for academic learning or the correct and precise use of the English language, as with the incorporation of Sarah Palin’s “refudiate” (http://www.newser.com/story/105391/palins-refudiate-is-oxford-dictionarys-word-of-2010.html).

Today, language is a trap to ensnare people, and it becomes popular to plagiarise works of others by taking articles from less than credible sources, such as www.wikipedia.com, and then posting them on one of greatest spy networks that exists. As Julian Assange warned in a speech at Cambridge University that information gathered on the Web could be used by governments to spy on its citizens. 

Julian Assange (Australian) 2010

At the end of April (published May 2, 2011 by the Russian Times and released on-line,) singled out specific “crawlers” and “groups” on the internet, noting:  “Facebook in particular the most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented. Here we have the world’s most comprehensive database about people, their relationships, their names, their addresses, their locations and their communications, all accessible to US intelligence.”  In response to Assange’s interview, a Facebook spokesman told the New York Daily News that the company only turns over information when “legally required to do so” (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/2011/05/02/2011-05-02_wikileaks_founder_julian_assange_rails_against_facebook_says_its_a_spy_tool_for_.html; cp. http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/The+Wall+Street+Journal). Assange went further, and related, that wars for the fifty years were all based on lines (http://rt.com/news/wikileaks-revelations-assange-interview/).

Today, English is a dying language–not a living language–as there is no rubric, no rule, no regulation on its use, where anyone with a podium, a microphone, or an audience can create words that few understand, but because of the popularity of the speaker are adopted into the language. As one female wrote to me in disagreement with my criticism and rejection of the IB Programme, using modern words “just feels good”:

“A conjunction joins clauses; it cannot begin a sentence, end a sentence, or be a sentence, and IB ignores this rule regularly.”

In ‘Examples of Bad English Misusing Conjunctions’, ‘so,’ ‘as,’ and ‘but’ are fine in that they begin the sentence [My note to the writer: when a sentence begins “So he liked it.” What does the individual like? What  you have is a series of fragments that confuse the writer. The rule on the use of conjunctions has existed since the eighteenth century; for example: “It is the good or bad Use of Conjunction, that constitutes the Essence of a good or bad Stile [sic: style]. They render the Discourse [sic: discourse] more smooth and fluent. They are the helpmates of Reason in arguing, relating and putting the other Parts of Speech in due order.” (Daniel Duncan, A New English Grammar, 1731)]. Conjunctions may begin sentences [This I totally disagree with. http://www.perfectyourenglish.com/grammar/conjunctions-correct-use.htm notes that conjunctions are used before a clause. Towson University notes (http://www.towson.edu/ows/conjunctions.htm) that conjunctions are “joiners”–they cannot begin sentences; cp. http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/conjunctions.htm and http://www.tolearnenglish.com/english_lessons/rule-for-conjunctions; I know of no reputable book, authority, and so forth that ever allows a conjunction to begin a sentence: that is vulgar (street or uneducated English]. However, a comma later on in their sentences would be good [My note to the writer: That would depend on where the comma is placed]. It may not be so in old grammar books, but the people who write these new books are used to grammar as they know it, and I’m pretty sure conjunctions at the start of sentences feels correct.

And for the FCE Online ‘mistake’ you found, that ‘to’ is fine as well. I’m pretty sure it’s known as a ‘prepositional adverb.’ [My note to the writer: It is not a prepositional adverb in English (except in some truly cheap and incorrect grammar books that are mass marketed to make a quick profit; a “prepositional adverb” is used, primarily, in Germanic languages. Unlike real prepositions, they occur mainly at the end of a phrase and not before nouns. They also modify the verb, which a preposition does not.  Czech may prefix prepositions to verbs of motion (jít to go → dojít to come towards, odejít to go away from). In Hungarian, suffixes added to nouns perform the same functions and may be prefixed to verbs, much as in German (városba to the city, bemenni to go towards) but in each case there is a distinct difference between to and towards.]

The letter[s from students at UNPRG] was [sic: were] full of mistakes, though. ;) Yes, I’m pretty sure that proper quotation marks are “”, but as native speaker, I use these quotation marks – well, apostrophes… (”) because I like them better. I have seen apostrophes used as quotation marks in literary works, though. However, it is best to teach students to use the proper quotation marks. [My note to the writer: To argue that “it is best” is weak, as it is not “best” but is critical, essential and must be mandatory, or the student will learn bad English and ultimately will not be able to understand or be understood by a more educated group.  My thesis is simple: when we “dumb down” (make it irrelevant or so simplistic that it takes no effort to master) we destroy civilization.]

Misuse of the language has always led to wars, violence, and atrocities.

Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabui deliberately invented WMDs that resulted in the slaughter of more than 300,000 Iraqis and foreign combatants

The misuse of language, the falsification of words and deliberate twisting of truth with words is best seen in the odious opportunism of Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi (AKA ‘Curveball’) who created the lie of “Weapons of Mass Destruction” for personal gain, as he admitted.  He was able to sell this fabrication to slow thinking George W. Bush whose use of the English language was marginal at best (he was admitted into Yale and Harvard because of his parents’ fortune), and this lie and misuse of the English language led to the deaths of thousands of Iraqis and servicepersonel from the USA, UK, and other allied nations (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/15/curveball-wmd-carne-ross). Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi (AKA ‘Curveball’) own wife (the marriage lasted six months) admitted that he lied to her on every occasion.  Germany’s former foreign minister Joschka Fischer has accused the former head of the CIA George Tenet of making implausible claims and supporting this lie which was fed to George W. Bush who committed more crimes against humanity than any other USA president (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/17/curveball-doubts-cia-german-foreign?intcmp=239). The Iraqi defector faces jail time in Germany, and German and British intelligence agencies show how the misuse of language and the deliberate lying in a language can cause mass destruction.

Throughout most of the world teachers, unfortunately, do not check out their sources. Most teachers merely read (“teach”) out of a text that is poorly proofed.  Their goal, especially in poor nations such as  in Latin America and Africa and now a growing reality in the USA (where 7000 high school students drop out of school every day; a rate of one every 26 seconds) and the UK, is to earn a salary–not to dispense knowledge or invigorate educational learning–or to be “loved”.  If the teacher can (is able to) educate carefully, correctly, and accurately, that is ideal; if the teacher is loved because the educator is a subject-matter-expert, then, that is best.

To be “loved’ only because the teacher is generous with grades not earned, or plays games and sings songs for the amusement of the students, few students will learn and what is learned will easily be forgotten. I have worked with families in Chiclayo whose children have studied the English language with teachers they have loved dearly, yet after six to eight years (or more) these young people cannot speak a word, write a simple sentence, or understand even an elementary English reading from the most modest of books, including English for Dummies. The wife of one of the men I know well and lives in Trujillo, took a bachelor’s degree in English from a national university in Perú and cannot remember a single word or phrase of English and is unable to translate without going to an inaccurate dictionary published by Macmillan and then do a verbatim (word-for-word) that makes no sense and has no logic behind it. For these reasons, I shudder when I read letters from students who proclaim that their goal in education is to “be loved” by their students. Their first responsibility is to teach responsibly and accurately. The purpose of education is to learn, not to make friends or be adored.

As if following the fictional movies Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939 film) and Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969 film), taken from the book Goodbye, Mr. Chips (originally Good-bye, Mr. Chips) by James Hilton (published in the United States in June 1934 by Little, Brown and Company and in the United Kingdom in October of that same year by Hodder & Stoughton) is a tale of a much beloved teacher, who, despite his own mediocre academic record, he goes on to have an illustrious career as an inspiring educator at the fictional school of Brookfield, today’s teachers are commonly applauded as being “kind” for literally giving unearned grades, and in many parts of the Third World pass students who fail so that they keep their jobs, or are bombarded with complaints by students who claim the teacher is not teaching the subject, is inadequate, or incompetent.  I learned how real that was when I taught at a national university in Perú. Teaching must advance the conduct of inquiry, as that is the goal to make today’s students better leaders for the world of tomorrow.

While English is a dying art in the USA (as can be read in the biographies of state legislators and the US Congress, in many tabloids and popular books; cf. http://www.iowahouserepublicans.com/members/annette-sweeney/biography for a state legislator; James Cochrane, James; introduced by Humphrys, John Humphrys (2005) Between you and I : a little book of bad English Naperville, Ill. : Sourcebooks, also see: Fussell, Paul (c1991). BAD, or, The dumbing of America. New York : Summit Books; National Enquirer (USA), Ojo (Peru), and so forth ) the same is true in Third World countries where the students struggle to master English. The greatest tragedy in Perú and Spanish-speaking nations is that Spanish is now under attack (from dropping the double ll and ch for the sake of expediency–and increase of ignorance; in the USA it is the Academia Norteamericana de la Lengua Española (ANLE) which is based in New York City, being an offshoot of the 1713, Real Academia Española, RAE (Royal Academy of the Spanish Language).

Real Academia de la Lengua de Español, Madrid, Spain

The Real Academia Español, whose motto is “Limpia, fija y da esplendor” (“[It] cleans, sets, and casts splendour”), was founded in Madrid with the objective of stopping Gallicisms and other corruptions threatening the Spanish language; its most famous publication is the Diccionario de la lengua española de la Real Academia Española (Dictionary of the Spanish Language of the Royal Spanish Academy), the “DRAE”. In 1994, the RAE ruled that the Spanish consonants “CH” (ché) and “LL” (elle) would hence be alphabetized under “C” and under “L”, respectively, and not as separate, discrete letters, as in the past when each word had a precise meaning and not a word that could have differing meanings and thus add to the confusion of the language.  Since 1994, the Academy has been pressured into “modernism” and by doing so destroyed the Castilian language; cf.  “La Real Academia Española y la Asociación de Academias de la Lengua Española presentan la Nueva gramática de la lengua española.”, Real Academia Española, 2010, http://www.rae.es/rae/gestores/gespub000016.nsf/voTodosporId/879EEE3982B5EBAFC12571640038E4E2?OpenDocument). This is tantamount to fundamentalist Christians citing Justin Martyr’s use of crux that does not appear in the Koine Greek that uses σταυρός (stauros); crosses were used as symbols of the Babylonian Sun-god…It should be stated that Constantine was a Sun-god worshipper…The evidence is thus complete, that the Jesus of the Bible was put to death upon and upright stake, and not on two pieces of timber placed at any angle. In ancient Chaldea (Babylon), and was used as the symbol of the god Tammuz (being in the shape of the mystic Tau, the initial of his name).  This gave rise to a misinterpretation and ultimately a transmogrified theology (see: Rev. Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons [2d ed.; n.p., 1858], pp. 197-205; cf. Vine, W. E. (1939). Expository dictionary of New Testament words; a comprehensive dictionary of the original Greek words with their precise meanings for English readers.London, [etc.], Oliphants, [1939-41], 4 vols.). 

Alice Paul (1885-1977)

The Declaration of Independence published by the Colonies in the New World in 1776, declares “all men are created equal”–but “men” was defined as (1) males, (2) white, (3) property owners, etc.  Black men are not recognized as citizens nor given the right to vote until the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified  on February 3, 1870. Women were not considered citizens or given the right to vote until the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified on August 18, 1920, and today, because of ultra-rightist (fascist) groups organized by Phyllis Schlafly, Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, Michelle Bachman USA women still do not have equality with men recognized by the Constitution (it was originally written in 1923 by Alice Paul {1885-1977}), although 35 of the required 38 states ratified it by 1972. The Twenty-sixth Amendment (adopted on July 1, 1971) did not recognize anyone under age of 18 as citizens.  I argue, therefore, that precision of interpretation is as importance as translation, for it is with bad translations comes bad interpretations, and that is the fault of language. To this end I will stand firmly for the correct use of each language, and work to change perceptions and law–not to flaunt what was intent (the US Constitution had no intention of ever freeing any Black, Indian, or Chinese slave, as Washington, Jefferson, and other signatories to the Constitution all had slaves, demonstrating that the USA was never planned to be either a democracy nor a republic). I will not yield on this point.

2 Comments

Filed under Education, Perú, Sarah Palin

2 responses to “Death of Language in Perú and the world

  1. Susan

    It’s all interesting. Nice pix.

  2. Pingback: Corruption in Perú and the Fujimoris « Arthur Frederick Ide's Blog

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