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Living Languages Like To Keep Moving
|Posted By: Jeff McCullers on January 10, 2002|
|My take on this is that English, like all living languages, likes to keep moving, changing, adapting, evolving. Ultimately, this means that any useful grammar is descriptive, not prescriptive.|
Having said that, I think there is definitely an obligation to help students learn to communicate in the most effective version of the language as it exists at the moment. This changes constantly, and what was barbaric a generation ago is "correct" now.
For example, I might cringe today at what some speakers willfully do to the the word "impact" but I have no concern whatsoever if a sentence happens to include a split infinitive, and, in fact, I quite enjoy splitting them myself. A generation from now, my fretting about whether or not "impact" is properly a noun or a verb may seem quaint, or baffling.
The tremendous growth in communications technology over the past fedw centuries appears to mean that we will have fewer languages in the future, but the the languages that survive will change and churn more quickly than ever.
This is why I'm not even sure I believe in such a thing as "lazy" English. I'm only concerned with being as effective as possible given the loosely-defined grammatical conventions of the moment.