Note: The National Council of Teachers of English was founded in 1911. The organization is celebrating its centennial. As part of this celebration, College English is publishing excerpts from its predecessor, the college edition of The English Journal. The excerpts are timely, a bit wordy and take their time to get to the point. However, I believe my readers will find them of interest. RayS.
Alexander Brede, “The Idea of an English Language Academy.” Vo. 26 (September 1937): 560-68.
Quote: “The ;position of linguists today is a whole-hearted acceptance of the fact that change in language is inevitable and not to be deplored and resisted. While it is recognized that a certain uniformity is desirable, it is also recognized that absolute uniformity is not attainable. Correctness of a disputed usage is not to be decided by an authoritative fiat but rather by the Horatian principle of use and custom. But this acceptance of inevitable change was not always the fact. On the contrary, the usual attitude has been to deplore change.” (560).
Comment: In my course on the history of the English language, the instructor said that if people find a usage too complicated, they will change it. However, to my knowledge, the distinction between “disinterested/uninterested” is still a battle zone. So is the distinction between “lie/lay.” Also, I’ve noticed in sports commentary, the distinction between the past tense of verbs and the participle is confused: “he had ran/he had run.” The change won’t be in my life time. RayS.
Title: “College English’s Precursor: Excerpts from the College Edition of The English Journal.” College English (November 2011), 157-191.