They’re beiging my language.
I’ve tried to learn other languages. I have studied them, but the most that’s consistently stuck with me is “Please,” “Thank you,” and “I speak only a little ______,” all said with pretty decent accents. But every time I’ve tried, especially the year when I was taking French and Spanish at the same time, I’ve learned more about English and come to love it a little more.
I don’t like it because it’s any sort of a rational language. Quite the opposite. I love every little quirk and irregularity. I collect idiom. I like that we’ve stolen words from almost every other language, and that I have to know something about each of them to know how my own words work.
But now, someone, some nefarious, well-meaning clown, is going around trying to make my language tidy. They’re taking my beloved irregular verbs and making them regular.
They started with the less common ones, and I’m sure they thought I wouldn’t notice. Silly them. When I was a kid, I dove competitively (well, it wasn’t terribly compatible with acrophobia, but I tried). Future generations of youngsters will not have had that opportunity. The most they’ll be able to say when they’re my age is that they dived (although probably better than I did). And while I dreamt of being able to go off the high board without my legs shaking, they will only have dreamed.
And let us not forget the poor campers. I knelt beside coals and burnt my marshmallows, listening as others wove thrilling ghost stories. Today’s children will have burned theirs for a lesser cause as they kneeled, their stories merely weaved. When spooky sounds came from the woods, my heart leapt. Theirs will have simply leaped.
I know there are good reasons to simplify our language. It’s replaced French as the language of commerce and diplomacy, and holding tight to these words create barriers for others who must learn it. But I can’t do it. I can’t embrace this rational, streamlined, beige version of my love. I have no choice but to fight it.
It isn’t for me, you see. It’s for the children.