Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Speaken The Good English

So I was reading the funnies, and rather unavoidably saw today's Annie's Mailbox. (I don't like advice columns. So sue me.) There, I saw the stupidest thing I have ever read: Someone says "stupidest" is not a word.

Okay, I know I play fast and loose with the language. I mean, "Awesomer" is in my blog title, and I'm well aware it's not technically a word. However, the context in which this person claimed this involved comparing "stupidest" to "theirselves" and "hisself." I simply can't fathom why someone would compare "stupidest" to "theirselves."

See, there's a difference between the two "words," if you insist on them not being words. "Theirselves" is a grammatical mutant form of a pronoun. "Stupidest" is a mutation of "stupid" to fill in for the lack of a word that means "most stupid."

The difference between the English language and most other languages is that it is the most aggressively inclusive and fluid language in existence. If English doesn't have a word for something, sooner or later someone coins a word for it. This grand tradition of word coinage started with Shakespeare, whose works contain a vast number of words that had never appeared in the English language before, and which are now in common usage. (It also absorbs words from other languages-"trek" being an easy example, although this ranges a bit far from my original point.) This is because it is fairly literally the "bastard child" language-it's a messy mashup of bits of French, Germanic, and hints of Celtic language which has only been considered a legitimate and important language for about four or five hundred years. (For a very brief discussion on English's former status, see the previous Wikipedia link, and scroll up.)

English is so full of contradictory rules and trickiness, in my mind, because it's still growing and evolving. Latin, for all its vaunted prestige, is dead.

And I've got three words for those of you who say that this or that isn't really a word: IT IS NOW. Once someone has said it, there's really no going back.

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