Thursday, July 7, 2005

Another First Post, and They Might Be Bloggers

Why the Bitter Scroll? Maybe it's because only an intelligent allusion to an Old Testament prophecy can begin describe the eloquence of my tongue as it will spill forth onto this electronic page. Right, whatever. Maybe it's because I'm an embittered, hardline grammarian who bursts blood vessels just thinking about the possibility of language changing, and rules along with it. Or maybe I'm bitter in my own superiority because of the stupid typo in my own blog's title, which was supposed to be The Better Scroll.

It doesn't matter, and I'm not going to tell you. All you need to know (Business on this blog is definitely conducted on need to know basis, and as we used to say at my last workplace: your job is none of your business; be assured you will be chastized at the appropriate time) ... as I was saying, all you need to know about this blog is that its content will be generally language related--and which language is up to me. Be forewarned, you will not likely agree with, or even be interested in, any two consecutive opinions I express here, but I promise I have good reasons for them all (which I may or may not provide in a manner you can understand). I can speak, can read, or have dabbled in more languages than there are distinct ingredients in the typical Taco Bell menu item, and I have had more intense, analytical, and often petty discussions about English, or simply languages in theory, than anyone I know can stand (except maybe for gaetanus). But then that's the reason for the blog: so I can vomit forth my unabashedly nerdy yet uncomfortably sardonic opinions to people I don't know.

Now, as for the need-to-know-basis thing: Here are some things you need to know. I love the English language, with all its inconsistencies, absurdities of pronunciation, wildly meandering etymologies, and not least of all, its wonderfully down-to-earth Germanic roots. I love studying grammars and finding cognates between languages. I realize that languages change, yet at any given point, there are still rules that (usually) must be followed. The art of language is, when wielded well, stable but not rigid, flexible and dynamic but not amorphous and meaningless. Language is a convention, which means that words don't usually mean things intrinsically, but by common agreement. The parties to this agreement may all subconciously change what they mean by something, and if so, it is a historical reality to be reckoned with, for good or ill. I hold strongly to rules of grammar, because they exist and because ignoring them is usually a sign of the "uneducated" (don't worry, they're not offended, b/c they're not reading this blog in the first place). But I think that any rule followed by convention is liable to reasoned analysis and review, not blind adherence. This is why I believe that it is not heretical, un-American, un-English, or an offense against all that is good and decent to split an infinitive when it serves the purpose of clarity. And as to ending sentences with prepositions I say, along with Winston Churchill, that, "This is the sort of English up with which I will not put." [For those of you not reading this b/c you fall into the aforementioned category of "uneducated", that last sentence was a good example of the earlier aforementioned sardonic wit of your author.]

I think that'll do for a first post. Please go about your regularly scheduled lives.

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