notes (with glee) that there is a bit of a tet-a-tet in France about whether English ought to be the required second language in schools (follow his links). The French are so thin-skinned and chauvinistic about their language! It’s not that the teacher’s unions and other advocates of linguistic diversity are not interested in having the students learn other languages, it’s just that, well, maybe something other than English would be best. How about Arabic? asks one deputy from the ruling party. He predicts that although English might be the international language today, tomorrow it might be Japanese or Spanish. Yes, indeed, that might prove to be true. I would guess in favor of Japanese, myself.
But seriously. English is a big, fat, and fast moving language. It grows naturally, as it were, from the ground up. No need for an Academy to save the language; it couldn’t keep up. It grows daily, and it has always stolen from any language it has come into contact with (even from Hungarian, see "coach"; or from Hindi, "pundit," "nabob," "thug"; or from Tamil, "pariah"; or from Arabic, "assassin," "azimuth," "admiral."). I also mention, en passant, that it is the language of Shakespeare. And it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the best poets of other languages learn English just to be able to read the Bard in the original and translate it. The words it allows to be created and used (Shakespeare aside) are something to behold: snafu, punk, sexy to sex up, and boogie and hip-hop, to blues and buzz to beatnik and hippie. And this creative and imperialist nature of the tongue make other languages--French might be an example--seem Mickey Mouse in comparison. English has at least three times the vocabulary of French, and eight or nine times the vocabulary of German or Hungarian. Some might say that the language has too many words! I suppose we could do without doohickey, doodad, or thigamajig, but they sure are fun. Maybe the French ought to be questioned or interrogated, or maybe just asked (a good, old, short word), what the dickens they are up to.
I am not saying that English (and maybe American English in particular) is not capable of using weasel words, as Teddy Roosevelt called them, we just have more options or choices or alternatives or preferences. Pick is good. The French are such snobs, aren’t they? (From sine nobilitate, the phrase Oxford students who were not noble were to put after their names. It was quickly abbreviated to "s. nob.," and then snob became one who wants to seem as though he is of noble birth.) That’s enough. I’m gonna watch the Cardinals of St. Louis play the Red Sox of Boston and listen to the talk about the American sport. I’ll hope for a gopher ball and then a grand slam, or at least a couple of homers. A rhubarb would be fun. I’m betting that Manny Ramirez will be the money player tonight. Is either pitcher a southpaw? I hope no bean balls will be thrown. Did y’all get all that?