The Right Coast
January 14, 2005
The Evolution of Grammar
By Mike Rappaport
Quite an interesting post by Eric Rasmussen on the evolution of language. One might think that conservatives are in favor of a static language, where elites instruct the masses in ways that differ from ordinary spoken language. One might also think that liberals are against this sort of instruction. Rasumussen suggests otherwise. He argues that language should evolve rather than remain static, and defends this from a conservative viewpoint. He criticizes liberals for ignoring spoken language and attempting to impose liberal elite positions on the populace.
Liberals are now trying to establish liberalism in the language by the use of grammar rules. They are using gender-neutered language, and not just using it in their own writing, but teaching it in schools and putting it in the manuals of style. This is an example not of evolutionary change so much as a conscious attempt to prescribe new rules that will change spoken usage. Nobody says in everyday speech, "A truckdriver must be careful to stay awake. Otherwise she might have a crash," but you see that kind of thing in academic writing.