Post by Jerry Friedman Post by Dingbat Post by Joseph C. Fineman Post by Peter T. Daniels
An announcement on LINGUIST List just now -- that might cause some distress.
Not being a linguist, I do not appreciate the distress. However, the
authors might well have extended their comparison farther into the past
than the 1930s. In _The King's English_ (1906), Fowler & Fowler
complain that British English is being "americanized" -- by Kipling!
Was Kipling aiming for a British AND American readership? Which was the first popular
(not scholarly) journal that published a single edition for both markets?
The Fowlers were referring to Kipling's style, which they said
manifested "a sort of remorseless and scientific efficiency" that they
considered American. I don't think they were suggesting that he was
writing that way to aim at the American market. He just liked R&SE.
Wondering exactly what they might mean by "R&SE", I finally found
my copy of TKE. Curiouser and curiouser! They give two brief quotations
from Kipling, and italicize three words therein for deploration:
"...in pre-Kipling days none of the words we italicize would have been
likely; now they may be matched on nearly every page of an 'up-to-date'
???So what is it about these words?
"The words are, as we said, extremely efficient; but the impulse that
selects them is in harmony with American, not with English, methods..."
I feel the same sense of embafflement that I get from a lot of literary
Oh, "honey-coloured" even gets a footnote:
"Not that this word calls for censure in itself; but when packed into
a sentence with snow-white, green, and shrimp-pink, it contributes
noticeably to that effect of brief and startling exhaustiveness, which
is one variety of what we have stigmatized as efficiency."
So what's the problem? Too many colour words? And they think that results from R&SE, that typically American trait? Feh.
Maybe somebody more in tune with Fowlerian values can explain this in
some way that doesn't make it sound stupid.