Warning, none of this really matters, reading this might waste your time. Enough about Hudson, it’s time to discuss something far less important.
French linguists are in a bother about the impending death of the circumflex by a consensus of an obscure and uptight committee of whoever actually manages such things. That funny little hat of an accent was originally introduced to signify that a word had lost a letter there next to the vowel it capped somewhere along the way and to make French spelling even harder.
Growing up we feared bad spelling and grammar. I’m of an age and generation where proper spelling and grammar might even have been beaten or at least browbeaten into some of us. We were told that poor spelling and grammar would limit our career options, our choice of university and be a dead giveaway that we might be lower class than we were and so clearly it meant the possible difference between a mansion and a double wide and who we might marry. Bad choice of motivation for young men when Ellie May Clampett and Daisy Duke were so damned hot.
Language is indeed a dynamic beast. Long ago those less rigid or perhaps less educated stewards of American, a colloquial offshoot of English Proper, played with stiff English minds by dropping the ‘”u” from many words like honour and colour. Not stopping there, they changed the “ough” to “u” in words like “through”. I’m sure many British purists still cringe when we use those rough edged lower class American compactions, and many are surely glad that the Americans had fought their way out of colonialism lest that poor English become contagious. Obama’s dropped ending “g” is probably causin’ clenched British sphincters whenever he speaks, I have to remind myself that he may have attended Harvard, but he grew up in Chicago.
I grew up, and therefore any attempt to educate me happened, in the US. I attended an exceptional municipal public school system and in High School was blessed to follow the AP (Advanced Placement) English and science stream. We were taught AP English by a wonderful gentle PhD, surely my first exposure to a gay man as a teacher, but we never ever talked about that and he was wonderful as a man and as a teacher. His first name was “Mister” always and while his ruler never struck flesh, it often flashed loudly out of nowhere onto your desk for all manner of spelling and grammar transgressions causing immediate shock and terror because your stupidity was about to be projected, analyzed and humiliated for the benefit of the entire class. And some call those the “good ole days”?
Growing up Canadian in the US and coming back to Canada in my mid-twenties, I’m caught betwixt and between. Generally, I have adopted the British versions because it saves people from asking: “You are American, eh?”
Modern English is in a precipitous slide and that slide is being accelerated by advancing technology. On social media are so many people who clearly don’t understand the use of the lowly apostrophe. Purists might argue that we never should have allowed the lazy writers to devolve English with a simple contraction tool. Your (preceding purposeful apostrophe abuse) maybe going to hate me for saying it, but apostrophe confusion is so pervasive I say we follow the French Accent Assassins lead and just kill the poor misused and usually abused apostrophe.
Texting and Smartphones are making the changes happen faster. Why bother with “your”, “you’re”, and “you are” when a simple “UR” or “ur” will do? Everyone knows what you mean and only the old and cranky like me grumble about the younger generation and cringe while reading it, plus we take ten times longer to text because we don’t know texting English and we have to kill those stupid and sometimes embarrassing autocorrect changes that we did not want done for us.
All to say that, so long as we can understand each other, and if we could learn to not judge each other by versions of our language, then the stiffness and structural constraints of any language don’t really matter much.
So, WTF, go have a wonderful day and please don’t forget to smile and LOL a lot and just try to accept that our language is a changin’ faster than ever.
4 thoughts on “Circumflexion”
I always thought the “circonflex” was just a way for the “aigu” and the “grave” to get together and fool around. The semi-colon is a much ignored and lonely punc these days.
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Linguistic anarchy places all punctuation marks at risk of extinction, so are capital letters, and some vowels.
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They’re, their, there,
Knot two des pare,
If autocorrect don’t fix it
Then it mussed be fare!
Thirty-seven years of correcting stuff like this has given me an unfair advantage in deciphering some of the an arc key, Peter !
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Ha, the semi-colon. That I remember, always before “however” in a sentence. Funny I remember this, here I was, didn’t speak a word of English and my parents decided to send me to English high school. First subject on the curriculum – Shakespeare! Talk about feeling like a duck out of water!