In Essentials, Unity; in Non-Essentials, Liberty; in All Things, Charity

June 12, 2012

The refusal to uphold a standard language is really a refusal to be universal. It is the promotion of parochialism at the expense of public engagement, and introversion over expanding one’s horizons. I want to speak the Queen’s English not because I want to be like the Queen, but because I want to get rid of her, and to make numerous other changes to the society we live in, and I recognise that the starting point to that is that we are able to understand each other and engage with each other. There is revolutionary potential in having everyone adhere to the same linguistic rules; there is only the dead end of division and parish-pump platitudes in the promotion of a linguistic free-for-all in which eevn spleling doens’t matetr. — The revolutionary potential of the Queen’s English

My own position falls into a middle ground that approximates the 18th-century freedom in matters of spelling, but an agreed-upon precision with regard to usage. The sort of individualized spelling of our literary ancestors did no harm; their attention to the subtleties of usage amounts to a heritage that we are foolish to squander. It has been a basis of more than our literature; it once was major part of our politics and, thus, a preserver of liberties.

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