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Expose the flaws
October
wilowisp
I fear the end of English as I know it. Bilingual signs fill me with dread (but not, strangely, trilingual, multilingual signs). Across the nation creeps linguistic change and foreign tongues. It upsets me.

I would like to be noble, and say that it is different from the people with "Speak English" bumper stickers on the back of their trucks. I want to believe some basic difference between us. I don't fear Spanish, I don't shun immigrant culture, I don't reject our patchwork landscape. Surely I deserve to have my fear set apart from those we deem ignorant, selfish and closed-minded. Somehow, because I am able to articulate my fear as 'different', it should be more understandable.

But no matter how I dress it up, the root is the same: fear of losing the power, the control. Perhaps it is a different sense of power that I fear losing. And perhaps for a time I can let that comfort me. Ultimately, though, I have to see my fear as the same as their fear; only the blossoming changes, shaped by the climates we weather.

I love the English language. I thrive in it. I feel that I have mastered it to a degree that I can conjure, paint, command, delight, expound and explore. I think it is a beautiful language that I swim through. The thought that some day my words will be intelligible, be it in the far future or even at the end of my life time? It chills me. How can I go so quietly into a night in which one of my greatest skills may be for naught? It is a harsh reality that my command of my native tongue is truly such a fragile gift.

There is no particular language or culture I fear 'taking over' English. Not Spanish, not Mandarin or Japanese or even the crude hack-jobs of social media. It is that any one could supplant it, turn the silver on my tongue to lead. Perhaps that is why multilingual signs are more acceptable to my primal reactions. A pentecostal menage in which no one rises and everyone is welcome, instead of a viable opponent on the march.

I feel shame about this fear, make no mistake - from both the unpleasant cultural implications to the intellectual dishonesty it implies that I hold onto. I know language will change. I know English will evolve. But it does not assuage the fear that I hold.

So let me celebrate instead English as I know it. Let me write it and read it and speak it and sing it. And a time will come when all of my syllables will be stripped of even the most academic of meaning. I need to make peace with that. Otherwise, I am just a cranky old man, who is afraid of the imposition of another language on his lawn.
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