21 Iulie 2015 Lasă un comentariu
By 1922, Rep. Washington J. McCormick had introduced a bill to Congress proposing that the country’s „national and official language” be „declared to be the American language.” States followed suit, and while most of these bills failed, in 1923 Illinois actually did declare the state’s official language to be „American.”
But what is American, exactly? In every place that people speak English, whether it’s Scotland, Ireland, Australia, Ghana, South Africa, or Canada, the language has its own essential character, sometimes so distinct that people from one place can hardly understand people from another. In this mish-mash of Germanic and Latinate forms, what distinguishes the language that’s used in this country? How do you speak American?
English in America has always been different than the English spoken in the British metropole. In his 1992 book, A History of American English, the late linguist J.L. Dillard, who specialized in African American Vernacular English, demonstrates that the most originally American form of English was a pidgin, originating with sailor’s language. Early explorers of North America, he argues, would have used nautical pidgins and passed those on to native people. By the time the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts, there were people here—most famously the men the new arrivals called Samoset and Squanto—who already spoke a version of English that Puritans could understand.