Language Evolution

I struggle with how to reconcile the fact that English is an ever-evolving language and my belief that Americans aren’t fluent enough in their native tongue to demand others learn it.

We live in a country that looks down on multilingual people–they’re either “too lazy” to learn English or “stuck up” for wanting to learn another language. I don’t come across this at all in Chicago, but when I lived in Indianapolis and nearby suburbs, it was (and still is) a common attitude. But this is coming from people who say “warsh” instead of “wash.” People who use the word “ain’t” all the time; who use double negatives; who end their sentences in prepositions; who use the term “they” when trying to be gender-netural with singular pronouns.

Many linguists are accepting of different pronunciations, colloquialisms, creoles, pidgins, and dialects because these are cultural and regional differences that people have created in order to adapt to other groups and their environments. 

On the other hand, I often find myself expecting that people learn their native language with at least some fluency before demanding others accept their random mangling of it. In other words–while we are perfectly capable of ending a sentence in a preposition (it happens all the time, right?), we should at least know why it bothers others, or why this “rule” came into our language before we “break” it.

I know there are a lot of weird, unexplained, confusing rules and that many of these things aren’t actually hard-and-fast rules, but carryover from primers translated from Latin, which did have rules, that just started getting printed up in order to find a way to provide teaching materials during the Industrial Revolution.

All that being said, it’s DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME, not Daylight Savings Time. And it should probably be hyphenated. Is it time that is being daylight? No. Is it time that is being saved? Yes. So it’s Daylight-Saving Time. But whatever.

Railing Against Shakespeare

I’m struggling a bit with how to process this, or at least to let it not bother me. I’m in my late thirties and have only recently become a parent. Many of the people I went to high school with have kids in their teens. One in particular, with whom I’d reconnected on Facebook a few years ago, has three children. The middle one is in 12th grade and was assigned Shakespeare to watch since students were having difficulty reading the play.

The friend, who has recently become a devout Christian, posted on Facebook a bit ago that she is disgusted with the content of the film and doesn’t know what to do. All of her real-life friends (we haven’t actually seen one another in many years) are recommending she email/call/approach the (public school) teacher in person to give her what for, refuse to allow her son to complete his assignment, go to the principal, sue the school for forcing this filth down their Christian family’s throats, and on and on. They’re all patting her on the back for “standing up for her rights.”

She also admitted that she refuses to allow her children to participate in sex ed at school, won’t let them read anything she doesn’t approve first, and won’t let them watch anything above PG movies. Her kids are 13, 18, and (I think) 20. The eldest is in a group home–I’m not sure his diagnosis–and she frequently posts how the staff don’t do enough to keep him from seeing movies with “cuss words” and sexual content.

On the other hand, she still loves all the ’90s hair-metal bands and goes to concerts like Poison and Def Leppard when they’re in town. She has an affinity for horror movies, but won’t watch anything that has the word “fuck” in it.

A couple of months ago, the boy (18) to whom she was referring in her FB post, ran away from home for a few days. She knew where he was but he wasn’t speaking to her and apparently needed time to himself. I can’t help but wonder if her strict parenting fed into that.

In all respects, she really does seem like a kind and loving person, despite being so incredibly conservative. She’s a “love the sinner, hate the sin” kind of Christian–the kind who thinks you can’t judge homosexuals because “we all sin.” I’m not a fan of this attitude, but I suppose it’s better than outright hatred.

Her kids go to public school. She doesn’t homeschool; she doesn’t pay for private, Christian school. She just expects the public educational system to adapt to all her wishes and demands, no matter how minor they may seem. The oldest son is in a group home thanks to taxpayer dollars–this woman and her husband don’t pay for her son to be there anymore than I do.

I’m especially frustrated because I don’t think she sees the link between her kids’ rebellions and her tight reign on their social lives. She and her husband will not be in the same space as people of the opposite sex unless the spouse is present.

It all seems so archaic and backwards to me. I don’t understand her at all. I especially don’t understand how she could be so completely different from the person I used to know than she is today. Does she think shielding her children from everything will shape them into better people? Despite the choices (drinking, drugs, sex, whatever) she made when she was younger, she still “came to God” or however you call it.