I'm sorry to report that I don't know who wrote the following discussion of the future of English. It given to me nearly ten years ago when I was a professor at Southern Methodist University. Although I had many excellent students at SMU, there is no denying that the style of this document resembles that of some term papers I received. Paul Michaelis AT&T Bell Labs att!hocpa!roller ---------------------------------------------------------------------- This sentence demonstrates alot of the to frequent errors that occur in my freshman composition classes, its not just there willingness to gleefully split an infinitive or end a sentence with a preposition which are the problems kindly boarding school masters used to be concerned with. Its true my students arent the good mannered middle class bunch who I went to school with, there more often cops or shoesalesmens or garbagemens (pardon me, sanitationmens) sons and daughters, and yet there a sharp group, wary, skeptical, bright. So when I knock myself out day after day class after class explaining the genitive case in english, the proper position of commas, the runon sentence, the distinction between the three theres and still these mistakes appear even in the work of the best of them I wonder. I wonder if just maybe they know something I dont about the english language. Something intuitive about its history and something instinctive about its future. After all, its been the movement of the language to progress toward simplicity. The case structure, with its confusing endings, was an early victim. Why say "On his dagum hierde Gregorius goda lara" when with a little reliance on word order and common sense you can more simply say "In his time Gregorys heard good lectures"? Besides the nagging whom the last vestige of the case structure in english is the genitives use of the apostrophe. But surely common sense and word order indicate the genetive usage and my students perception is correct in eliminating the troublesome superscript. Theres wisdom in doing away with punctuation that doesnt contribute to clarity and when my classes monolithically dispose of pointless spelling distinctions where the sense is obvious there judgment may be sound. Then again, alot of my colleagues lose sleep over the way some students slam two words or letters into one but metathesis or the changing of the position of sounds or letters is a venerable tradition, or else a newt might still be an ewt. Words in english usually explain themselves by position and context, though of course there exceptions to this rule which my students in there foresight have not anticipated but give them awhile and they will. I cant go into detail about every grammatical innovation made by my students, theres alot to recommend them though and if your an editor, the author of an english grammar or the perpetrator of a work on footnote logic and you can read this you should pay attention to my class because one day they might take over and one day you might wake up. And discover your fired.
(From the "Rest" of RHF)