Tag Archives: Language

Why Do People Say Like So Much?

AT LEAST A FEW of you, dear readers, weren’t yet born thirty years ago when Frank Zappa and his daughter Moon Unit recorded “Valley Girl.” At that time I thought it was a clever piece of work, but that it must be an exaggeration, maybe even a fabrication, of San Fernando Valley speech. I’d never heard anyone talk that way in the small Canadian town where I grew up, and I expected I never would.

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The Virtue of Watching Your Language

THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE is not unique in having a fluid, ever-changing character. Best described as a Low German dialect imbricated by Latin and Greek, via eleventh century Frenchified Norseman, English has changed a good amount since Geoffrey Chaucer wrote the following lines, somewhere about the year 1390:

Now, sire, and eft, sire, so bifel the cas,
That on a day this hende Nicholas
Fil with this yonge wyf to rage and pleye,
Whil that her housbonde was at Oseneye,
As clerkes ben ful subtile and ful queynte;
And prively he caughte hire by the queynte,
And seyde, “Ywis, but if ich have my wille,
For deerne love of thee, lemman, I spille.”

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