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Learning English

I´ve recently started a new adventure: reading The King´s English by Kingsley Amis. I have it as a present from my old business unit director, Ricardo Martinez, who you can read in The bookcrossing was a common practice in Oracle. I´ll maybe purpose it in my new office…

It could seem a very old fashioned reading, but I think it´s a classic title if you want to know specific rules about the use of good English, which is, of course, the British one.

I´d like to share today a though from the book, that came to my mind when I read in an article about some Liechtenstein pictures that are going to be sell in an auction. It´s about the use of alright

All Right

I hope I need not say this is the correct form, making two separte words of it. The one-word travesty, alright, was said in the A-G volume of the supplement to OED in 1972 to be ‘a frequent spelling of all right’. Yet the citation there of most recent date is taken from MEU of 1926, where Fowler says, in part, that alright, ‘if seldom allowed by the compositors to appear in print, is often seen…in MS’.

Fowler never said anything without good reason, and I can testify personally that in my schooldays befores the Second War alright was indeed often seen -and nearly as often derided. I remember part of a solemn condemnation that ran ‘Alright is alvays and altogether all wrong’, and the incorrect form became nearly as much a favourite target of popular scorn as get in the sense of ‘obtain’ or ‘become’. Perhaps this did the trick; something did, anyway, for alright is very seldom seen nowadays. Its appearance in the title of an amusing television show of the 1990s, It´ll be Alright on the Night, a succession of embarrassingly spoilt takes, may seen a conscious barbarism. Even so there will perhaps be many whom it offends. 

I am one of them. No doubt as fully aware as most people that language is nothing but a series of signs to convey meaning and that in this sense no damage seems to be threatening any part of our existing arrangements, I still feel that to inscribe alright is gross, crass, coarse and to be avoided, and I now say so. Its interdiction is as pure an example as possible of a rule without a reason, and in my case may well show nothing but how tenacious a hold early training can take.”


1 Comment

  • Reply
    11 Enero, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    Por que no:)

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