Celebrate the Decline and Fall of the U.S. Empire at YAPC::NA::2008

Mark Keating mdk at shadowcatsystems.co.uk
Thu Mar 13 17:19:19 GMT 2008

"we": to mean everyone who uses it in any form
"our": to mean that it is all of us which is why I seperated the 
divergence as being someone elses argument
"language": to mean the whole of the language -including- all the 
dialects and registers of that language
"But it doesn't belong to anyone.": means I actually accept everyone's 
claim to it

The Zs were a joke - arf arf - Mork calling Orson come in Orson

I was trying to be inclusive and to indicate that -all- dialects of 
English are in fact part of the same 'natural' progression of English 
(hence the Evolution). I was also pointing out that people refer to it 
as British English, American English when it is in fact all English. 
Though it is also bloody good fun to laugh at each others usage of it, 
that's all. I was going away from the idea of divergent not being part 
of to imply that English is an umbrella and that my usage of it is as 
divergent as any other therefore there are no divergences per se, just 
usages (if that scans).

Oh, and Standard variants of a language are just another dialect, useful 
in the learning of a language and that is all. It would be insane for us 
to try and teach anything other than a standardised form: "ey wazzock 
thar's a reet bit blakey tother day wiizzinae me" means little outside 
of North Yorkshire. But that is also the beauty of English in that the 
sentence has as much claim to value as "to be or not to be, that is the 

And as for absolutes, there is none in an evolutionary system like the 
one I mentioned.

I am not prescriptivist as I like to believe that this is all part of a 
language evolution and that variants are a form of a dialect continuim. 
But I am a pedant:

"The OED tells us that a /prescriptivist /is "An adherent or advocate of 
prescriptivism", and that prescriptivism is "The practice or advocacy of 
prescriptive grammar; the belief that the grammar of a language should 
lay down rules to which usage must conform". There's no OED entry for 
"proscriptivist", but we could regard is as a regular derivation from 
/proscriptive/, which is glossed as "Characterized by proscribing; 
tending to proscribe; of the nature or character of proscription"."

Now, would somebody tell me what TMTOWTDI means? I have never come 
across it before.

John Costello wrote:
> On Thu, 13 Mar 2008, Mark Keating wrote:
>> Also it isn't a divergence it is an evolution, we cannot diverge from 
>> our own language.
> Yes you can.  It's called a dialect.  Put a different way:  No one speaks 
> "British English", "American English", or any other national English.
> Although the vocabulary and spelling of English variants, well, vary, they 
> are not separate languages.
> British Standard English is a proscriptivist view toward language.  Like 
> any other "standard" version of language, it does not exist as an 
> absolute.  TMTOWTDI!

Mark Keating BA (Hons)
Managing Director

Shadowcat Systems Limited
'Sufficiently Advanced Technology'

Linked-In Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/markkeating
MSN: mdk at shadowcatsystems.co.uk
Blog: http://www.projectmonkey.vox.com 

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