Thursday, August 28, 2008

Alright, gotta backtrack a little

A couple of days ago I posted my long awaited lie vs lay article, and Americans gave a collected sigh of relief. At some point about something I'm sure a lot of Americans sighed. And it's a large country, with a large population, so I'm sure millions of those sighs came at the same time. And odds are, the population being such, a portion of those sighs came immediately after I posted my little grammar article on lie vs lay. And a lot of those sighs had to be sighs of relief, its just a statistical probability. So, I've covered all my bases I think.

The thing is I read, or rather TRY to read, way too much Kafka. Or at least I have in the past. So I've just kind of taken Kafka an ran with it. If you don't understand what Kafka has to do with any of this, just try reading Kafka. Cause I don't either.

Anyway, I need to correct a statement. For some reason in my little inuendo laden diatribe about lie & lay, I mentioned something about oxen and children being irregular plurals that hark (or harken) back to English's Anglo-Saxon roots. Well, it just so happens last night I was laying in bed reading "The Mother Tongue," by someone who's name I can't remember, and I came across a paragraph about Oxen and Children.

Yep. What I read for pleasure.

Anway, I need to issue this little statement: I really don't know anything about the History of English. Well, I can scratch the surface, but that's about it.

At any rate, using an -n, -en, etc as a plural form was part of a midland English dialect a long time ago. East Midlands I think, and except for those Plurals, it is the dialect that won out as standard English. Because that is where London is, and where the business of government was done. Makes sense. But, for some reason "n" as a plural ending did not last. The "s" and its various forms as a plural ending, came from a more northernly dialect. So now we say Houses instead of Housen, loves instead of loven, hounds instead of hounden (or maybe houndren). And no one knows why. Or maybe they do. I don't know. Anyway, Oxen and Children are holdovers from that.

The thing is, using an 'n' or various forms of it as a plural is very German. English is a Germanic language, born from a German dialect, so it only makes sense. So I figured it was a holdover from the Saxons or something. I reckon not. I just reckon maybe I was wrong.

One of the neat things about English is that as time went on, it got simpler. That's because for almost 300 years or more, the powers that be in England spoke French. They didnt care about English, didnt even care enough to try to suppress it. It was the language of peasants and lower classes, did not have an educated class to try to regulate the grammar, and over time, it became simpler and simpler, grammar wise (believe it or not). English doesnt even have two forms of "you" like almost every other European language. English doesnt care about gender, and doesnt have a lot of other nasty things many other European languages have. But does it ever have synonyms. And homonyms. And even nastier things, like cleave - which can mean to bond together or split apart. So I guess its not that simple.

Anyway, I'm rambling. Time to go.


Anonymous said...

You should take a look at The Kafka Project

You can see his manuscripts in his handwriting.


A Valdese Blogger said...

Gracious me, anon, I can't even read his writing translated & in a nice legible type face. How would I ever read it in long hand, in a foreign language. Oh anon, anon, it'd cleft my brain in twain!