James Joyce's English was based on the rhythm of the Irish language. He wrote things that shocked English language speakers but he was thinking in Gaelic. I've sung songs that if they were in English, would have been banned too. The psyche of the Irish language is completely different to the English-speaking world.
Most English speakers do not have the writer's short fuse about seeing or hearing their language brutalized. This is the main reason, I suspect, that English is becoming the world's universal tongue: English-speaking natives don't care how badly others speak English as long as they speak it. French, once considered likely to become the world's lingua franca, has lost popularity because those who are born speaking it reject this liberal attitude and become depressed, insulted or insufferable when their language is ill used.
I believe it is essential to have English as the official language of our National Government, for the English language is the tie that binds the millions of immigrants who come to America from divergent backgrounds. We should, and do, encourage immigrants to maintain and share their traditions, customs and religions, but the use of English is essential for immigrants and their children to participate fully in American society and achieve the American dream.
A word about 'plain English.' The phrase certainly shouldn't connote drab and dreary language. Actually, plain English is typically quite interesting to read. It's robust and direct-the opposite of gaudy, pretentious language. You achieve plain English when you use the simplest, most straightforward way of expressing an idea. You can still choose interesting words. But you'll avoid fancy ones that have everyday replacements meaning precisely the same thing.
We do not for example say that the person has a perfect knowledge of some language L similar to English but still different from it. What we say is that the child or foreigner has a 'partial knowledge of English' or is 'on his or her way' towards acquiring knowledge of English, and if they reach this goal, they will then know English.
I don't think it is always necessary to take up the anti-colonial -- or is it post-colonial? -- cudgels against English. What seems to me to be happening is that those people who were once colonized by the language are now rapidly remaking it, domesticating it, becoming more and more relaxed about the way they use it -- assisted by the English language's enormous flexibility and size, they are carving out large territories for themselves within its frontiers.
We know from our recent history that English did not come to replace U.S. Indian languages merely because English sounded musical to Indians' ears. Instead, the replacement entailed English-speaking immigrants' killing most Indians by war, murder, and introduced diseases, and the surviving Indians' being pressured into adopting English, the new majority language.
I found cause to wonder upon what ground the English accuse Americans of corrupting the language by introducing slang words. I think I heard more and more different kinds of slang during my few weeks' stay in London than in my whole "tenderloin" life in New York. But I suppose the English feel that the language is theirs, and that they may do with it as they please without at the same time allowing that privilege to others.
The price a world language must be prepared to pay is submission to many different kinds of use. The African writer should aim to use English in a way that brings out his message best without altering the language to the extent that its value as a medium of international exchange will be lost. He should aim at fashioning out an English which is at once universal and able to carry his peculiar experience.
English is the largest of human tongues, with several times the vocabulary of the second largest language -- this alone made it inevitable that English would eventually become, as it did, the lingua franca of this planet, for it is thereby the richest and most flexible -- despite its barbaric accretions . . . or, I should say, because of its barbaric accretions. English swallows up anything that comes its way, makes English out of it.
The fact that for a long time Cubism has not been understood and that even today there are people who cannot see anything in it means nothing. I do not read English, an English book is a blank book to me. This does not mean that the English language does not exist. Why should I blame anyone but myself if I cannot understand what I know nothing about?" -Pablo Picasso.
No, obviously, the time goes by, the English gets better. Ever since I met Melanie, that was almost nine years ago now, you have to just speak the language continuously, hone every word. So, and the proof for me of that, was actually in theater. It has to be two hours and 45 minutes on the stage speaking a language that is not your language, and singing.
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