Posted on February 24, 2012. Filed under: language | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

A rose by any other name…     Shakespeare

That is misleading — the title, I mean.  This isn’t about liars at all…   or roses, either, for that matter.  Rather, it’s about the Great Learned, those educated elitists so much better than the common citizenry, the authoritarians who set the standards for the rest of us to follows.

So, what’s with LIARS? you are asking.  Acronym…   what else?  Learned Individual Ascribing Refinement to Self.  It’s sort of an intellectual turf-marking exercise.

I have heard it said that English is the most difficult language to learn (for a non-native, anyway).  If so, that might have something to do with the fact that our language, like our country, is a great melting pot of cultures.  Our early history is a relocation of various ethnicities from across Europe to the New World, people who transplanted their cultures and languages to America’s fertile soils.  Inevitably, cultures and languages (eventually, from all around the globe) blended into a unique offspring, the American experience.  Actually, though, that whole process just made a real mess out of the king’s English.

Understandably, the only persons who could preserve and pass on previous cultures in the written format were the educated ones.  In the far past, if you were a commoner (as almost every one was), you spent all day, every day of the week, breaking your back to provide basic subsistence for yourself and family.  You had no free time to learn an alphabet and writing.  The best you could do was pass down skills and a spoken history to your children,  It was the upper class, living off the wealth provided by the commoners, that had all the time to learn and refine themselves while preserving and decoding the written history of forgotten cultures.  Should you become proficient in a chosen field, you could become one of the Great Learned (pronounced “Smart Dude”), move further up in the ivory tower and just send down periodic pronouncements of your great findings and intellectual prowess for the lesser citizenry to ponder.

Many European languages have a common wellspring — Latin (Veni, vidi, vici, y’all).  While that means they employ a common alphabet, it doesn’t mean they use the same pronunciations.  The Great Learned,  in translating from one language to another, kept the same spellings from Language A to Language B, even though B pronounced things differently.  Why write “bordeaux” (bordux?) and guacamole (gwakamole?) in english when you want me to say bordough and wahcamole?  Maybe the translator (a Great Learned individual)  just wants to show off his language skills and refinement.  Today, what with universal education and the internet, it seems that everyone is a Great Learned individual.  Mispronounce “guacamole” and watch your beer buds snicker and condescendingly point out your “error.”  Yep, your buds are so much more refined than you.

Next up:  Why do LIARS get to set the rules?

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