WHO PUT THE “S” IN “ISLAND”? Jacob Rees-Mogg probably did…

Super entertaining news this week that Jacob Rees-Mogg (esquire) has written a memo to the cabinet informing his colleagues that they should NOT use the words very, ongoing, yourself, speculate, ascertain, disappoint … amongst others.  And he also went on to make it very (sic) clear that all non-titled males should have “esq” after their name, there are double spaces after full stops and there’s never a comma after “and”.

How ridiculous.  How can the man possibly think he can control the language, that he even thinks he has the right to control the language, and what sort of message is he sending out in trying to do such a thing?

Very aptly, given that JRM (esq) is jokingly referred to as the right Honourable Member for the eighteenth century, in that very period Boswell, Swift, Johnson and others wanted to ‘fix’ the language.  By bringing out his dictionary, Johnson wanted to ensure the language didn’t change or degenerate over time.  And his colleagues decided that English needed to look more Latin because Latin = classy.  So they “Latinised” Germanic words, for example by shoving the letter “s” into the world “island” …

… and they also shoved a “c” into “scissors”.   Thanks guys, English wasn’t nearly difficult enough to spell.

But what they failed to grasp, and what JRM (esq) doesn’t get, is that language is a liquid, not a solid, and it morphs and changes over time and bends to its user.   And that’s the beauty of it.  It’s a common to us all but the way we use it is personal and distinct.     We demand the right to use ascertain.

Having said all that, those people who litter their prose with “some” do actually need taking out and shooting…

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