Where Has All the English Gone?

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Back in 1907, Teddy Roosevelt was correct when he spoke about the significance of language and of being an American:

We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language… and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.

While these words were said over a century ago, they are equally relevant in 2012. However, omnipresent political correctness today prevents us from endorsing these views. Here in the U.S., English has been the official language, yet we are sadly questioning its virtue.

Columnist Michael M. Bates summarizes the large role that language plays in our society – and, for that matter, any society:

Our common language is a basis for our cultural unity.  For folks wishing to advance here, knowledge of it is essential. We do immigrants no favors by bending over backwards trying to accommodate them in their native language, hindering their adapting to a new culture.

No other country allows immigrants, foreigners, misfits and anti-government interests to dictate policy.

It was comical and somewhat ridiculous when many years ago the “trash collectors” became “sanitation engineers” and “undertakers” became “funeral directors.”  Just recently, in 2011, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, turned the Christmas tree into “holiday tree” to appease atheists. It is getting more absurd every day.  In the book “The Language Police” by Diane Ravitch, the author describes the deliberate distortions and omission of certain words required by our political leaders in education. Now it seems, we will have to abide by the thought police or the truth police.

The expression “politically correct” was born in the late 1900s. The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary describes it as “language or behavior that deliberately tries to avoid offending particular groups of people.” We should obviously not aim to offend, but we need to be clear. Honesty and clarity are the only ways to convey the truth.

Young people are our future, we need to engage them in truth and facts, not deception.

In June 2011, Federal District Judge Fred Biery issued an order to stop a San Antonio school’s valedictorian from saying the word “prayer” as part of the graduation speech. He ordered the school district to remove the words “invocation” and “benediction” from the graduation program to be replaced with “opening remarks” and “closing remarks.”  Fortunately, the ban was reversed, and the  school administrators didn’t have to act as the speech police.

I just learned that a real estate office directed its agents not to use the phrase “within walking distance,” and to replace it with “nearby” so as not to offend those who may have trouble walking. Where has our sense of reality gone?

Political correctness is damaging our nation and freedom. We must present clarity and enforce our laws to better protect our country. This begins with guarding English as our language of identity.

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  • waterwillows

    When you lose your footing and hit the slippery, sandy slopes ….. you lose your ability to speak and even think clearly.

    Any clarity and you might notice that you are spot on in the middle of quick-sand. Too much truth for the afflicted to handle. So, politically correct is a white wash for fools.

  • RobbinsMitchell

    What about my "islamodisgustia"?…is that a thought crime too?

  • tagalog

    The time is rapidly approaching, if it's not already here, for the mainstream to shake off the authorities who lead us and begin to fashion our approach to the truth without regard to leaders who are trying to bring us as fast as they humanly can into the Age of Newspeak. For me, it began when the War Department was renamed the Department of Defense quite a long time ago. That's when we began losing wars.

  • clarespark

    I'm glad that Orwell's name has been evoked. We are in that much trouble. I tried to discern a turning point for the Great Dumbing Down, and it was much earlier than Orwell's Britain under the Labour Party. I traced it back to the leadership of the "pragmatists" under William James and Charles Sanders Peirce in the early 20th century. Here is the link: http://clarespark.com/2012/03/13/dumbing-down-whe…. I solicit your responses.

  • maturin20

    There is no real likelihood of English becoming a second class language in the US or the world at large. All the points about euphemism and distortion in government are well taken, but they're also ancient critiques to a perennial problem. They are unlikely to change any time soon.

  • mrbean

    Only in some of the better private schools do they still teach cursive writing, reading by phonetics, English grammer formally, and required reading of classical literature starting with Homer through to Hemingway. In some schools "dey eben be teachin' wit dah ebonics cause dah chiles larn mo' betta dat ways." I have heard of kids going all the way through high school in some states and never taking any algebra, geometry. or trigonometry and they have never even read one piece of classical literature.

    • tagalog

      The decline of language for us Westerners began when the schools stopped teaching Latin as a required course. Learning Latin was difficult, but it focused our minds on what the words we use in English really mean. Once we stopped learning the baseline subjects, our decline into mush words (and from there into mush thinking) was inevitable.

    • aspacia

      beanboy, I have difficulty handwriting anything, but I can type 65 wpm, at my all time low, it was 80+. Currently, we can talk and our computers will type as we talk. I have been training mine on and off.

      BTW, I teach both formal and informal tense use, have often taught the Odyssey, Hemmingway, but really love teaching The Crucible, The Lord of the Flies. I currently see these bandwagon trends occurring on both sides in my land.

      Currently, I have one student who writes "dey" instead of they, and "dat" instead of that. He just enrolled three weeks ago.

      What ticks me off if the fact that I am blamed for this student illiteracy when it is administration who forces teachers to pass illiterate through the system.

  • Western Spirit

    This is another example of those who do evil under the pretext of good. The "good" of not hurting peoples feelings by putting a penalty on telling the truth.

  • sedoanman

    "The expression 'politically correct' was born in the late 1900s. The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary describes it as 'language or behavior that deliberately tries to avoid offending particular groups of people.'”

    Even the definition is politically correct, and therefore highly suspect. I prefer, "A crusade to ignorance characterized by a denial of truth that conflicts with ideology." People generally hate political correctness because it requires us to pretend that we don't know something that we do. Since language is dictated by academia and the media, what does she suggest we do?

    • tagalog

      What should we do about the decline of language? There are many teachers who love Orwell. A few, myself included, teach students the essay Politics and the English Language, along with books about the use of language like A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, as part of our courses. Organizing teachers into a corps of language clarity demanders would be a good first step.

      A language of the people, English will never submit itself very willingly to formal teaching, but that's OK. English still has formal and informal usages without endangering its ongoing evolution.

      • aspacia

        Ah, another suffering pedagogue. Actually, I HATE PEDOGOGICAL THEORY AND WHAT IT IS DOING TO MY SOCIETY.

  • Shari

    I think what Susanne is attempting to state here is that our language has been politicized to our own detriment.

  • http://www.standwithus.il SaveTheUnion

    The other political correctness of America.
    Americans need not feel sorry of the "correctness" of the Democrats, it is politics at the expense of true religious freedom. I say Islamic Terrorism is Islamic Terrorism; a public fact. The Ayatollahs of the Democrats won't like it but who cares except the "patriotic", weak American moslems.