When I Heard the Learn’d Linguist—Sophrosyne Enchiridion Collateral Descendant of Lingua Pranca Contents Nursery Rhymes From Linguistics Land—Yune O. Hūū, II

English on the edge

Terence MacNamee

They beat the pants off the Germans.
They dropped a bomb on Japan.
In time even Soviet Russia
Was only an also-ran.

Yep, Uncle Sam was #1.
That’s how World English grew,
Till even the Middle Kingdom said
“We speak-ee English too”.

Oceans of talk and chatter
And world-wide logorrhea;
All in the language of Shakespeare.
But is it a good idea?

Milton! Thou shouldst be living—
For English hath need of thee.
The world’s most popular language
Is reaching its apogee.

For therein lies the bummer:
As English goes to town,
The quantity’s ever-increasing,
But the quality’s going down.

Destroyer of all things English,
Creating a language hell,
Making a mockery of Milton
Is the spread of ESL.

Learning it at a night-class,
Learning it out of a book,
Learning it off a computer,
Learning by hook or by crook,

Soon will the learners of English
Outnumber the native-born.
That’s why English is on the edge,
Its idiom shop-worn.

The scientist and the scholar
All write in English today;
They work for the Yankee dollar
And hope to increase their pay.

Franglais was bad; World English
Is rotten to the core.
It feels, when I read Denglisch,
Like Hitler won the war.

We must be free that speak the tongue
That good old Shakespeare spake;
But with everyone in on the act
It’s getting hard to take.

Remember what happened to Latin:
First ’twas the language of Rome,
Then it spread with the Western Empire
Far from its sun-blest home.

In the mouths of the various peoples
It turned into French and Spanish,
But the monks kept it up for their learning,
Which made style and idiom vanish.

Now English is the new Latin.
Latin’s power was the written word;
But English is found on the airwaves
In the mouths of pundit and nerd.

We’re making the goof we made before.
It’s driving me round the bend.
English where once we ruined Latin.
Oh when is this world going to end?

The monks of some future religion
In 3009 A.D.
Will write in a curious pidgin
Once spoken by you and me,

Till along comes another Renaissance,
With cries of “barbarians go hang!”
And “back to the classics like Shakespeare!”
Then the world may end with a BANG.

When I Heard the Learn’d Linguist—Sophrosyne Enchiridion
Nursery Rhymes From Linguistics Land—Yune O. Hūū, II
Collateral Descendant of Lingua Pranca Contents