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Monday, October 17, 2011

Should language-butchering be outlawed?

While I'm on vacation, please help yourself to some old slices of Lemon Harangue Pie.

Should language-butchering be outlawed?
(originally posted 10/06/2006)

It looks like some government officials in Malaysia must have read my "If I Were in Charge..." article and taken it seriously:
Malaysia to Levy Fines for Poor Speech

Malaysia will levy fines on those incorrectly using the national language, and will set up a specialized division to weed out offenders who mix Malay with English, news reports said Thursday.

Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Rais Yatim said fines of up to 1,000 ringgit ($271) can be imposed on displays with any wrong or mutated form of Malay, the Star newspaper reported.

The move was to ensure "the national language was not sidelined in any way," Rais said, according to The Star.
Poor speech, bad spelling, and horrible grammar have always been pet peeves of mine. But do we really want linguistic laziness to be against the law? Isn't that going a bit too far?

Hmmmmm...let's see.

I'm now imagining an America where people are fined for saying "reeluhtor" instead of "realtor," "supposably" instead of "supposedly," and for using non-existent words like "irregardless."

I'm also picturing how a law like this could affect (note how I used "affect" instead of "effect") cyberspace. Its (note the correct way to not use an apostrophe) effect (note how I used "effect" instead of "affect") could be positive. Truth be told, I wouldn't mind running across a blogger who actually knew to type "definitely" rather than "definately." It's (note the correct way to use an apostrophe) always good to avoid misspelling (note the correct spelling of "misspelling") words, and following Malaysia's lead might be the answer.

I can see a world in which poorly, constructed run-on sentences, riddled with, unnecessary puctuation!!! SCREAMING AT ME IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS are replaced with crisp, clean sentences that get right to the point and don't ramble on incessantly without actually saying anything, but just making it seem as if the author is trying to meet some sort of word quota so that it looks like he knows what he's talking about, but in reality is just a pompous, cynical jackass who thinks he's better than everybody else because he has discovered the world of blogging and has nothing better to do with his time than to just sit at his desk and type until he's pulled away from his computer screen by a rerun of Seinfeld that he's already seen 37 times.

Sorry. What was I saying?

Oh, yes: banning desecration of the English language. Now that just might be a totalitarian policy I can get behind!

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