Ours Is a Mongrel Language

Posted inThe Daily Heller
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Mark Twain, America’s foremost humorist, used to rail about grammar and spelling:

…simplified spelling is all right, but, like chastity, you can carry it too far.– The Alphabet and Simplified Spelling speech, December 9, 1907

Twain argued that American English is a mongrel language: “I don’t see any use in having a uniform and arbitrary way of spelling words. We might as well make all clothes alike and cook all dishes alike. Sameness is tiresome; variety is pleasing. I have a correspondent whose letters are always a refreshment to me, there is such a breezy unfettered originality about his orthography. He always spells Kow with a large K. Now that is just as good as to spell it with a small one. It is better. It gives the imagination a broader field, a wider scope. It suggests to the mind a grand, vague, impressive new kind of a cow.”

Perhaps mongrelism is a prevailing characteristic of our Republic. Just cheque out thems sines abov and belowe.

[Two greats of illustration and cartooning pass: Ronald Searle (1920-2011) and Simms Taback (1932-2011)].