Hmm, for those of us yet not mired in the complexities of the non binding, non compulsory marriage debate, comes this scintillating piece from the luminary of the lumosphere, Lew Skannen. We don’t know much about Lew, cept to say he’s really on the mark about pedantry. And we’re glad to say his type are not quite yet extinct. He’s got something to say on that, and like an honest man in parliament, is a rare thing indeed. His piece is titled:
In Defence of a Language under Siege from Pedantry.
Things have changed, changed utterly.
In the old days if people died, they became, in reality, dead.
Milleniums (sick) hurtled by and old 18th century fossickers began to find and record the existence of squillion year old, ludicrously large, huge things wot used to wander about among us (or not). Time passed and other feathered huge things were discovered as well. It then became a paleontological bawling match amongst the dig-up-the-past experts as to whether the first discovered huge things had had feathers of their own or whether the feathers had come later.
In any event, one way or the other, all of these Pay Leo chaps made a daycent living out of contradicting each other. digging up stuff, and writing about the distant past as if they really, really knew how things had been back a few million years ago. All sorts of weird discoveries arrived, were cataloged, marvelled over and eventually declared extinct. I personally myself have found these arguments, theories and contradictory ideas of the greatest interest and have attempted, as a lay man, to follow all this huge stuff as it has developed.
Wot I dont understand is why a certain descriptive term, a term used by all sorts of Attenborough-ish commentators for as long as I can remember is nowadays, in a shameful, parochially narrow-minded Trumpish way, nowadays wholly unacceptable. I refer, of course, to the much favoured, much used and easily understood term; ‘…become extinct…’
Huge, ungainly, dirty great animals and birds, it would seem, in the long time ago, were surprised by a cosmic thunderbolt and, as a consequence, became extinct. This I understand. Something unmerciful apparently fell out of the sky and made shite of all and (almost) sundry.
To suggest that they had ‘…gone extinct…’ seems to me to suggest that the fauna of the time had a choice in the matter, that they had ‘…gone…’ , on observing the thunderbolt, like the legendary lemmings and flung themselves off the edge of the world. (You will, doubtless, of course, remember too that the Earth was flat at the time….)
I would like to take it upon myself, in this instance, to volunteer to break the nose of the pedantically tedious bore who had influence enough, in the circle in which he inhabits, to foist this witless change upon the groves of academe and sadly too on the most parrot-like of our less academically clad commentators. The term can be heard nowadays in the most common of paleontological circles as if it had always existed, as if it had always been so. It has not, so stick it, if I may make so bold, up your logically disastrous jumper! I refuse, absolutely to use the term lest this bastard ‘creation’ stick in my craw!
Also too, the argument in favour of this change, the ‘…Gone Extinct-ers…’ would appear to make the point that you cannot ‘become’ extinct because to ‘become’ suggests that creativity is in progress, whereas ‘…extinction…’ suggests nothingness. In my opinion,for the ‘…Gone Extinct..’ camp to attempt this argument is, in the world we live in, the most exquisite bollox. This argument would only work if we were all of Mr Spock’s disposition and logic ruled our language and our world. Our language is, au contraire, wonderfully chock-full of ludicrous grammatical contradictions, of demented illogicalities and superbly maniacal convolutions so complex that it is a miracle any of us can speak the language at all, let alone write the bloody thing down!
Glad I got that off my chest…