This topic is something that gets me rather fired up. It’s the idea behind “correct” language. People will often say things such as, “That’s not correct English,” “That isn’t a word,” “Did I say that right,” and they will judge people’s intelligence based on the way they talk. If they use big, unusual words, “correct” grammar, and are able to substantiate (look at how smart I am) themselves with a dictionary are educated. Those who use “fake” or “made up” words, “incorrect” grammar, and their usage doesn’t match that of a random dictionary are illiterate.
Here’s a little lesson for you in languages. Languages are always in a constant state of change. Modern English was at one time Shakespearean English or Early-Modern English, which came from Middle English, which came from Old English or Anglo-Saxon, which came from a combination of different languages including the languages of the Angles, the Saxons, and the Jutes, then, several languages earlier, it came from Proto-Germanic, which came from Proto-Indo-European, and from there on it is an argument which language PIE came from.
Therefore languages are currently changing and will continue to change until we figure out some way to freeze them in their current states. Examples of changes are new words, new grammar structures, new pronunciations, etc. New aspects of a language are not wrong they are just different. I remember when I was little everyone got attacked for using the contraction ain’t. “That isn’t a word!” Ain’t is a perfectly legitimate contraction that comes from amn’t. You understand it, and it works exactly the same as any other contraction so why is it not correct?
The argument that the older form is more correct is completely ignorant. You always hear older people complaining about the way English is going down the drain now-a-days, words are becoming sloppy, and Americanisms are ruining English, but those are simply because languages change. At one time the English of our grandparents’ generations was the new, sloppy form, and the same for the English of their grandparents’ generation. Change is always viewed as bad, but that is just a negative perception by negative people who can’t see the good in change. Change makes our language more lively, interesting, and fits the current age more correctly. That just shows if anything the newer the form of the language the more correct it is.
And how about you guess what will happen to these complainers. The old farts who complain about the downfall of English will one day die off along with their form of the language. Maybe someday some of the characteristics of their English will enter the current form but that neither makes it better nor worse.
If the case that the older form is the correct form then here are some examples of correct language that you probably wouldn’t expect. The General American pronunciation is more correct than Received Pronunciation because the General American accent is closer to the accent of the settlers that came from England, Quebec French is more correct than the French spoken in France because it continues to use more words and grammar structures of Old French than Standard French does, and I am sure there are many other examples that would greatly surprise the average person.
I absolutely cannot stand when people try to back up their argument with a dictionary. This may be a reality check for some of you, but a dictionary is not the bible of language. It is simply a reference tool for some of the standard language and some non-standard forms at the time of its publication. If a word isn’t in the dictionary then that doesn’t mean that word isn’t a word; it means that is a bad dictionary that is not up to date with the current language.
If you are now questioning what determines a definition or legitimacy of a word if a dictionary doesn’t it is usage. How people use words in everyday speech determines their definition and correctness. I remember one time at dinner when I was younger my brother tried to argue that people always use conservative incorrectly because it means frugal and not traditional or orthodox. That is simply not true because people in everyday life used conservative as both and therefore both are correct. Also, if you look in a dictionary now there are definitions for both meanings.
Making up words and using new grammar structures is totally fine. I can say “I am breakfasting” instead of “I am eating breakfast.” The prior means exactly the same thing except it is easier and simpler so why not use it? An example of making an adjective that I change into a noun is the word stupid. A stupid is a stupid person. Again means the same thing except simpler, easier, and funnier because it is not something you are use to hearing.
I admit to laughing when I hear new words or new structure, but there is nothing wrong with them. Today my mom was watching Judge Judy, and it was a case of a lady who was dog sitting. She was being sued because the dog got to her boyfriend’s medication and died. The girl argued that it was her fault because it was an accident. Judge Judy responded with several examples of accidents that people are still liable for like hitting someone else’s car. She then went on to say, “Those are all accidents, not on purposes,” or something along those lines. My mom, dad, and I (not incorrect if I said me, my dad, and my mom) burst out laughing because it was different. We had never heard that before so it was funny but not incorrect. We absolutely understood what she said, and that is all language is meant for. I hate this bullshit where people judge each other on how well they speak. Language is meant for communication not a way to show someone’s education.
Shakespeare is a perfect example for new language who is considered one of the best writers in English history. He invented, imported, and was the first to write down thousands of words and expressions that you would never dare argue aren’t correct. Words like eyeball, obscene, watchdog, what the dickens, etc.
I am not arguing against a standard because I definitely agree that there should be a standard form of all languages. This allows people of different dialects to talk to each other without discrepancy.
So instead of thinking of new usages as wrong, we should think of it as unique and a perfect way to originally express ourselves. So please stop fighting your “correct” language war against freedom of expression, and let language do what it naturally does!
Keep expressing yourself freely!
Here is a post and a video that everyone should read and watch: