25 Responses to And That Ain’t Just Whistling Dixie

  1. dennis August 10, 2009 at 11:38 am #

    Racist! Neo-Confederate! Oppressor!

  2. Black Bloke August 10, 2009 at 12:30 pm #

    The Anti-American Spelling Club gets a little bigger.

  3. Brandon August 10, 2009 at 1:47 pm #

    You mean I can stay and get all South-i-fied like y’all, and listen to the gold weevil pickin’ cotton ALL THE LIVE LONG DAY, and can I eat possum till I cant eat NO MO’?

    • Roderick August 10, 2009 at 1:58 pm #

      Tell me more of this gold weevil…..

      (I know the love of gold is the root of all weevil, but I didn’t know they actually had ’em made from the stuff.)

      • dennis August 10, 2009 at 2:32 pm #

        Haven’t you read your Edgar Alan Poe, though that was a beetle and not a weevil.

  4. Charles H. August 10, 2009 at 2:45 pm #

    Except on their introduction page one of the headings is “The South as It’s [sic] Own Nation.” I don’t believe the Oxford standard fails to distinguish possessive pronouns from contractions.

    • Charles H. August 10, 2009 at 2:46 pm #

      or fails to close off its HTML tags. 😛 Sorry.

      • Roderick August 10, 2009 at 2:50 pm #

        I don’t believe the Oxford standard fails to distinguish possessive pronouns from contractions

        Well, traditional Southern standards have been notoriously eccentric when it comes to, um, possession.

        • Mike D. August 10, 2009 at 3:15 pm #

          Oh, I get it. They’re a bunch of Mutualists, huh?

        • Roderick August 10, 2009 at 3:41 pm #

          Yup, if you fall asleep you’re deemed to have abandoned your physical embodiment and so it can legitimately be enslaved/homesteaded.

      • Brandon August 10, 2009 at 6:25 pm #

        Did you want the introduction page link italicized?

        • Charles H. August 11, 2009 at 7:39 am #

          no, sorry, I opened with an “a” tag and closed with an “i” tag by mistake.

  5. Joe August 10, 2009 at 5:16 pm #

    What I find most unnatural (because my first language was Spanish), is the use of “ise” for “ize”, and according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxford_spelling,

    “In the Oxford English Dictionary, the choice to use -ize instead of -ise is explained as follows:

    … some have used the spelling -ise in English, as in French […] But the suffix itself, whatever the element to which it is added, is in its origin the Greek -izein, Latin -izare; and, as the pronunciation is also with z, there is no reason why in English the special French spelling should be followed, in opposition to that which is at once etymological and phonetic. In this Dictionary the termination is uniformly written -ize.”

    So I find the League of the South’s argument inconsistent with the above.

    I would think your Athenian “roots” ought to preval 🙂

    • Gary Chartier August 10, 2009 at 5:24 pm #

      If I had to guess, I’d say that the Norman Conquest is ultimately at fault: French spellings are associated with the post-Conquest aristocracy. And even centuries later, English aristocrats perhaps viewed the French as arbiters of taste, and emulating the French as a sign of sophistication.

      • Roderick August 10, 2009 at 5:59 pm #

        Mais naturellement.

        On a vaguely related topic: I’ve noticed that in 19th-century French all the rules we’re taught about accents are ignored, and in particular they generally use an acute accent where we’re taught nowadays to use a grave, e.g., siége instead of siège. (When I’m transcribing French stuff for the website I usually correct it so it’ll show up properly in search engines.)

        • Gary Chartier August 10, 2009 at 8:17 pm #

          Despite the last name, my French is really limited (I discovered recently that the only reason my dad’s family had a French name was that someone named Carter came to Quebec from England sometime in the 19th century and decided to Francicize [?] his surname); I’ve read very little French. Are you saying, Roderick, that the same rules are followed in both the 18th and 20th centuries, but not the 19th? Or is the 18th century different still?

        • Roderick August 10, 2009 at 9:10 pm #

          I haven’t read enough 18th-century French to know.

      • Black Bloke August 11, 2009 at 1:16 am #

        I think the term would be “Francocize”.

        I’ve also heard from French speakers that the state has mandated and maintained a consistency in spoken and written French for over a century. To preserve culture or something.

        The accents might just be something that got away.

        • Black Bloke August 11, 2009 at 1:17 am #

          Agh, I should’ve replied one nested level down.

        • Gary Chartier August 11, 2009 at 10:20 am #

          Why ‘Francocize’?


        • Black Bloke August 14, 2009 at 4:33 pm #

          Post 1 am writing…

  6. Fnord August 12, 2009 at 1:58 am #

    American Speech More Elastic Than English
    H. L. Mencken, discussing in the June Bookman a newbook by Gilbert
    M. Tucker on “American English”, makes some wise observations about our idiotic use of English: “What I refer to here, of course, is
    discourse of ordinarily educated folk –neither the jargon of intellectual snobs nor the gibberish of the vulgar. As phonology gobbles grammar, this spoken language takes on more and
    more importance; once more the dog begins to wag its tail. But even in the written forms America has certain salient superiorities over standard English. It is looser and more comfortable; it is livelier and more alert; its cliches are less ponderous and banal; above all, its spelling tends to be more logical. What could be more idiotic than the supernumerary e that the English attach to such words as
    ax, annex, and form? Why cling to centre when center is so much simpler and better? Why two g’s in wagon and two l’s in traveler? Why kerb in the face of the curb? Why plough for plow Why goal for jail? Even the our ending, as Mr Tucker shows, is illogical and nonsensical. If honour and neighbour are correct, then why do the English white exterior, ancestor and mirror? The common notion that
    the our is preserved for etymological reasons- to indicate loan-words from the French- is quite absurd, and yet the English put a u into it; superior comes direct from the French and yet they leave out the u. (Moreover, the French ending is eur, not our. If it
    is moral to drop the e, then why cling to the u. The English themselves, in fact, begin to ask such questions. They already omit the u from many derivatives e g., honorary, arboreal, and humorous.
    Soon or late, they will have to go the whole hog- as indeed, the London ‘Nation’ has already gone. Twenty years hence, I daresay, the only guardians of the our ending remaining in the world will be a few American Anglo-Mamiacs.

  7. Alexandra K August 13, 2009 at 2:16 am #

    Every language is a living developing organism and its colloquial version never matches its writing version. Speaking roughly there are hieroglyphic languages and phonetic languages. Phonetic ones are flourishing, progressive, alive and kicking while hieroglyphic ones are rigid, conservative and stupid. Plus there is a huge body of languages that are in between. Chinese and ancient Egyptian ( to some extend modern French) are hieroglyphic; German, Spanish, modern Arabic are of a “middle way”; and Romanian, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese are phonetic, that means progressive and libertarian.
    What about contemporary English, especially its Oxford (or Confederate if you prefer) version? It’s a very hieroglyphic, rigid, conservative and not libertarian. Honestly, there are only two hieroglyphic languages in the World, English and Chinese! Both are official languages of bloody empires. So, every attempt to “relax” English spelling is good and libertarian. I like folks who use “nite” instead of “night” and “thru” instead of “through”. And I LOVE American teenagers for their silly texting. Like “ hi jes I by th bike u ment 4 5 bux 2 bux 2 u choklt urs its cule luv u baib xx xx” isn’t it wonderful?
    Dr. Long you are a left-libertarian, I’m not. I’m a stupid thin libertarian who is trying to keep my libertarian purity ( and sanity) up. And… isn’t it ironic? In this ( linguistic) respect I’m leftier and more anarchic than you? He-he 😉

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