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[Great Britain] British temperament

 
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David Crystal in his The Fight for English. How language pundits ate, shot, and left quotes lord Chesterfield, who thought that "we must choose a 'dictator', ... to provide order in the language" and chose Samuel Johnson, the maker of he most influential dictionary of English of that time, as his dictator:

I give my vote for Mr Johnson to fill that great and arduous post. And I hereby declare that I make a total surrender of all my rights and privileges in the English language, as a freeborn British subject, to the said Mr Johnson, during the term of his dictatorship. Nay more; I will not only obey him, like an Old Roman, as my dictator, but, like a modern Roman, I will implicitly believe in him as my pope, and hold him to be inflatable while in the chair; but no longer.



I found this quote hilarious. But was "but no longer" intended as a joke, or is it just a colloquial expression of that time?

Earlier, discussing a failed attempt to establish "the English academy", (an institution whose purpose would be to watch the language, a-la French academy), David Crystal quotes Mr Johnson and mentions "bolshy, democratic British temperament":

We live in an age in which it is a kind of publick sport to refuse all respect that cannot be enforced. The edicts of an English academy would probably be read by many, only that they might be sure to disobey them.



Interesting, that the same day I read the quote above, I read this on the comment section of LanguageLog:

And given how the British are, if one of them found a wiki that prohibited British spelling, half the Isles would be screwing with it within an hour.



Maybe I should have been born British.
 
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As a dictator of the English language, I'd rather go for Alan Partridge.
 
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Map,

I think you would really enjoy the book, The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary, by Simon Winchester. It's a true story detailing the origin of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), focusing in particular on one man who contributed thousands of entries while an inmate at the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum.
 
Mapraputa Is
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Hm, I have his The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary, need to read it... Did he write two books on the same topic? My personal dictator of English didn't like The Meaning of Everything though.
 
marc weber
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Hm, I have his The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary, need to read it... Did he write two books on the same topic? My personal dictator of English didn't like The Meaning of Everything though.


Yes, that's the same author, returning to the same subject with a different focus. I'm not recommending Professor and the Madman for its style, because in that respect, it's average at best. But I found the content quite intriguing. So, if you can get past the (lack of) style...
 
Mapraputa Is
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I am ordering Professor and the Madman from Amazon, because Marc and me like the same things.
 
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Originally posted by marc weber:

I'm not recommending Professor and the Madman for its style, because in that respect, it's average at best. But I found the content quite intriguing. So, if you can get past the (lack of) style...



I liked it more because it was an odd story, rather than a great book. Winchester has the habit of promising a conclusion then changing the subject. Perhaps this was why it felt like three magazine articles pushed into one story?
 
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We live in an age in which it is a kind of publick sport to refuse all respect that cannot be enforced.

A good example of this was when David Blane did his stunt where he sat in a plastic box hanging from a crane for several days without any food. When he did it in New York, crowds gathered to cheer, take photos and hold up signs saying supportive measures. When he did it in London, people jeered, started eating their lunch underneath him (a hotdog seller set up a stall there and made a huge profit), played golf using his box as a target and on one occasion attached a MacDonalds meal to a toy remote control helicopter and flew it around his box all night.

And given how the British are, if one of them found a wiki that prohibited British spelling, half the Isles would be screwing with it within an hour.

This actually happened last week. Several British newspapers reported on a new website Conservapedia, a conservative wiki which claimed it was needed because Wikipedia had a liberal bias, was not religious enough and used British spelling too much. Within a couple of days large numbers of Britons signed up and started putting British spellings all over the place.
 
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Originally posted by Dave Lenton:
This actually happened last week. Several British newspapers reported on a new website Conservapedia, a conservative wiki which claimed it was needed because Wikipedia had a liberal bias, was not religious enough and used British spelling too much. Within a couple of days large numbers of Britons signed up and started putting British spellings all over the place.



LOL Yep we're nothing if not persistant trouble makers LOL
 
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troublemakers galore...

Yet why the need to honor the crown? There is no aristocracy...
 
Dave Lenton
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Originally posted by John Dunn:
Yet why the need to honor the crown? There is no aristocracy...

I don't think we do really. OK, there's a small percentage of people who really are monarchists, but most of the population probably don't honour the Queen just because of her job (although some people respect her for how she does it).

Generally we keep them around because they make us money (the monarchy costs us less then presidencies in many countries, and bring in the tourists by the bus load), because we don't really want the head of government to also be head of state and also because it would be a real pain to remove the word "royal" from all the national institutions.
[ March 06, 2007: Message edited by: Dave Lenton ]
 
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Fortunately, the current Queen is tolerant and indulgent enough to allow her subjects to criticize the monarchy. There have been reigns in which this would have been a beheading offence.
 
Dave Lenton
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I suspect that if that was to happen again then we would rather rapidly develop a republican tendency
 
John Dunn
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The only monocarchy I'll support, is the one where I wear the crown, Thank you.
 
Dave Lenton
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Originally posted by John Dunn:
The only monocarchy I'll support, is the one where I wear the crown, Thank you.

Heh. To be honest, I don't think I'd want the job. The monarch gets a nice house to live in, but they can never pop down the pub, go for a walk, browse around a book shop, do a normal job, have any kind of opinion about anything that matters, wear casual clothing, go to the cinema, get drunk etc. What kind of life would that be?
 
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The French have an official body to protect and control the French language:

http://www.academie-francaise.fr/

Or if you prefer in English....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acad�mie_fran�aise
 
John Dunn
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Originally posted by Dave Lenton:
Heh. To be honest, I don't think I'd want the job. The monarch gets a nice house to live in, but they can never pop down the pub, go for a walk, browse around a book shop, do a normal job, have any kind of opinion about anything that matters, wear casual clothing, go to the cinema, get drunk, etc. What kind of life would that be?



I will make it a felony to drink small beer.
-- William Shakespeare

Me too.
[ March 07, 2007: Message edited by: John Dunn ]
 
John Dunn
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New cover for my throne.

This way I can pay homage to my wife's crown, and shower my regards at the same time... We have a 11/2 bathroom, so it'll make the 1/2 solely mine.

:-)
 
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