Stephen Fry, Poetry & Accepting Language Development

We are all, more or less, grammar Nazis. There is always going to be something that grates our souls when we hear it or read it. At the same time it is important to keep remembering that language is – and should be – evolving. The most attractive argument for this is put forward in a typographic animation by Matthew Rogers with Stephen Fry reading sections from his essay Don’t Mind Your Language…

The whole essay is really worth a read. The animation is poetic beauty and my favorite section is his retort against those who thing new uses of language are ugly:

It’s only ugly because it’s new and you don’t like it. Ugly in the way Picasso, Stravinsky and Eliot were once thought ugly and before them Monet, Mahler and Baudelaire. Pedants will also claim, with what I am sure is eye-popping insincerity and shameless disingenuousness, that their fight is only for ‘clarity’. This is all very well, but there is no doubt what ‘Five items or less’ means, just as only a dolt can’t tell from the context and from the age and education of the speaker, whether ‘disinterested’ is used in the ‘proper’ sense of non-partisan, or in the ‘improper’ sense of uninterested. No, the claim to be defending language for the sake of clarity almost never, ever holds water.
It’s about using the right words for the right occasion. Not an easy task. It’s also about enjoying the sounds languages make and having fun with them. This is where we have to let other people do what they do.
Addition: More on the same theme WritingorTyping recommended Chillax If it works like a word, just use it by Erin McKean.

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