Monday, October 01, 2012

English and borrowing

Got a request to comment on the source of this quote ... now available on t-shirts, etc. It's famous but I couldn't remember offhand when the message came where it was from. As many readers will recall faster than I did, it's from Jame Nicoll and widely quoted (see here). The full quote, which floats around in a set of variants, is richer:
The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that the English language is as pure as a crib-house whore. It not only borrows words from other languages; it has on occasion chased other languages down dark alley-ways, clubbed them unconscious and rifled their pockets for new vocabulary.
No idea what the original form was, but that one's pretty good. And English hasn't really stolen much grammar, in the usual senses of the term.

1 comment:

John said...

Very nice posting, Mr Verb! Now, where can I get that T-shirt...