Sunday, October 17, 2010

Open Big

Shaw set three main criteria for the new alphabet: it should be (1) at least 40 letters; (2) to be as phonetic as possible (that is, letters should have a 1:1 correspondence to sounds); and (3) be distinct from the Latin alphabet to avoid the impression that the new spellings were simply "misspellings". George Bernard Shaw and the Shavian Alphabet.

There's a bear in there
And a chair as well
There are people with games
And stories to tell
Open wide
Come inside
It's Playschool - "Playschool Song", Australia last century

From the Dallas Morning News - Anymore
Americans are so cute.

They can massacre the English language without looking back.

When I first came to America, I lived in Oklahoma. Now THAT place was bizarre. Neighbours would leave religious tracts in our mail box. About what would we think when in heaven if we hadn't paid the butcher's bill, and what if the other people in heaven from our town KNEW, and what would we FEEL like when they noticed us in the line waiting for our lamb chops. Not that they HAD butcher shops in Oklahoma. Or in heaven, I'd imagine. But whatever.

As I said, it was a bizarre place. Could Oklahomans spell? I never found out. After all I was only there for three months. Not long enough to be able to expect hearing people talk in complete sentences.

Now I'm in New York City. A place as normal as can be. A place without verbs or nouns. Or adjectives.

New York English - a subset of American English - is simple. One could almost say, democratic. But then the Tea Party has bastardized THAT word...

George Bernard Shaw, a million year's ago, had wanted to rationalize, to reform English. Actually, George may have been ahead of his time. The alphabet he proposed was to be limited to 40 letters. Shades of Twitter.


Windsor Jewelers Ad
I am sure Mr Shaw would have approved of 21st century American English.

When I go to my dentist he says, "Open big!" The first few times I ignored him, thinking he was talking to his iPhone. Eventually I realized he was talking to me.

"Open big"! In OZ dentists say, "Open wide".

But I like "open big". It is so Anglo Saxon. No messing around. No Latin derivatives. "Open" and "big" - both simple monosyllabic words. Pre-Roman invasion of Britain. Pre Norman the Conqueror. Pre civilization as we know it. Straight and to the point.

Other Americanisms I like -

- "The cat wants in." In OZ we'd say, "Listen to the cat meowing. I think he wants to come inside."

- "Do you want on?" when asking someone if they want to use the computer.

- "That's a big heap of water," Terry Gilliam to John Cleese on seeing the Atlantic ocean from an airplane window on his way to England.

I was watching "The IT Crowd" on the telly today. the manager of the IT department was asked what "IT" stands for,/,

Her answer? "Internet Things".

American English. It's spreading.

Is this a good thing?

Should we press the "Like" button?

Or should we want out?

My name is Kathleenwng and I approve this message


Trish O'Riley said...

I wonder what the British say we Australians do to English?

wschuller said...

How is 'open' monosyllabic?

Love the blog.

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