Is American English Deteriorating?

Read, Allen W.
January 1965
Education Digest;Jan1965, Vol. 30 Issue 5, p36
The article analyzes whether American English is deteriorating. Language is a sensitive instrument that moves along with the needs of its speakers, and what seems temporarily to be deterioration turns out in the long run to be necessary adjustment to new needs. People who talk about "correct English" are usually oversimplifying the problem dangerously. It is simply a matter of differing usage, in one social group or another. Good English is that which is appropriate and effective, even when it goes against the pronouncements of purists. To use language well, people must feel at home in their language, not as if they are running a hurdle race to avoid mistakes. People often get the idea that the natural way of talking is low-class and wrong, and that the clumsy, odd way of saying things must be correct. The give-and-take of communication, along with the necessity of being understood, establishes the boundaries that keep American English viable and healthy. The English language hasn't got where it is by being pure.


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