Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bad English

I recently discovered an essayist and blogger, Baldur Bjarnason, who I find I am in continual agreement with when it comes to the subject of English and writing. He wrote a recent piece on bad English and bad writing, and I found myself thinking, wow, this guy gets it. Here's a snippet from his post that hit home for me:

"I’ve made a statement several times to several different people that what we call bad writing isn’t necessarily so. If we evaluate the writing based on its effects – its success at delivering an emotional message – then I find it hard to label a lot of it as bad. Not to my taste, of course, but bad? Hard to argue with it if it works.... cultural elites use the label of bad English and bad writing to exclude the voices of minorities and other classes... A legitimate regional dialect gets demonised as bad language and native speakers get labeled as dumb, their access to education limited, etc..

"Most of you see by now where I’m going with this. What we have defined, traditionally, as good English has almost always been driven more by ideology and politics than by an analytical effort to describe actual effective use of the language. Less ‘what problem is that language solving?’, and more ‘who are those people using that language and do we like them?’.

"Those are two mutually exclusive philosophies. You can’t think of language as an adaptive problem-solving system and as an objective, concrete, thing with built in ideals that shouldn’t be deviated from. It’s one or the other. Never both." --Baldur Bjarnason

I couldn't have put it better myself.

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