The English Language.


The man who is obliged to peruse his "unabridged" on the slightest occasion, and who cannot write half a page without looking up a dozen words, may read the following with every feeling of satisfaction and pleasure. A recent essay on the subject of spelling and reading English gives voice to some rather remarkable opinions, a consideration of which it was thought would be interesting, especially to the class of men spoken of above.

The essay states that a small boy who is obliged to learn the English language is subjected to "one of the most mind-stunting processes that has ever formed a part of the general education of any people." Then again it says, "the child who has difficulty in learning to spell may be expected to develop strong logical faculties."

The truth of the first statement is perfectly obvious, even to the novice in educational matters; namely, any small boy that one meets on the streets shows that he is undergoing a process of "mental and moral stunting," traceable, of course, to his application to English in the primary schools. Going further up the scale, can any one observe the enervated and demoralized state of the average foreigner, after a short struggle with our tongue, without feeling what a terrible thing this language is? No remarks need be made about "ye student and his theme," for they always speak loudly for themselves, yea even profanely sometimes.

The second statement of the essay brings to mind the conviction held by the writer, and doubtless by many others, in their earlier years. When we viewed the world from the foot of the spelling class, years and years ago, we were certain that we were smarter than any other member of it. Now we have written proof, that our superior intellectuality was the real cause of our former disgraceful position, and that, in truth, the rest were mere dolts in comparison with us. It was only another case of the ugly duckling without the ugly duckling's good fortune.

The essay goes on to say, that the boy who lays aside his reasoning powers, and takes without question the dictum of his teacher, is the one who learns to read and spell more readily. There is a great strain upon the powers of memorizing at the expense of everything else. Several letters stand for one sound and vice versa. There are many silent letters and syllables, and altogether the English language is the worst constructed of any now in existence, except, perhaps, that of the heathen Chinee. An Italian school-boy learns to read Italian in a little over nine hundred hours, while it takes the average English boy three thousand five hundred hours to learn his native tongue!

A proper consideration of these facts will surely bring peace to many a man haunted with doubts of his own capacity. He ought to see immediately that his poor spelling and pronunciation are due to the persistence of a logical and methodical mind, which has held out against the destructive effects of English. In conclusion, let us return thanks to these essayists who so often come to our aid, and strengthen our faith in humanity, even at the expense of cherished traditions.