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  1. Personally, I don't pronounce the H in which, whistle or white at all.  In fact, I think most people omit the H.  Has pronunciation changed since the codification of Gregg spelling?  If so, Gregg is no long phonetic.  I guess you could say it is still phonetic-based.

  2. Maybe the hw thing is a area pronounciation type thing… depending where you live or how you were taught to say it… I guess if you have the symbol memorized, even if you did not pronounce the h, you'd write it… if not memorized then you wouldn't write it with the h. Debbi

  3. Well, in standard English, the h is pronounced in words that begin with wh. This dates back to Old English (i.e. the first word in Beowulf: "Hw챈t!"). It distinguishes whether from weather. Many people have disregarded the h, but that is the same idea that people have when they take away the male and female forms of fianc챕 and fianc챕e and just have fianc챕, or when they remove "alumna" and "alumnae" from the language. The idea is that English is eroding, and preserving the wh sound is just a way that we have of preventing erosion. 🙂

    Regardless, it is still an English standard to pronounce the wh. However, it is not taught quite as thoroughly in schools, much like subjunctive mood ("If I were cool" is correct, while "If I was cool" is incorrect).

  4. I know I'm a newbie here, but as an English language enthusiast, and at the risk of being contentious in a partially-defunct debate, I would disagree that now there's an extant form of Standard English. There is little point, or reality, in trying to ascribe an ultimate 'correctness' or standard of excellence to any form of English nowadays, since many American neologisms and styles have become widespread even in England, and cleanly-spoken English can find pronunciations that both omit and include such sounds as the 'wh' in 'which' or 'what' or 'white.'   Lastly, I disagree with the 'erosion' idea. The loss of feminine/masculine differentiations, or complex noun declensions and verb conjugations, was a steady, organic process in natural language which actually ended up simplifying, and pragmatically speaking, improving vernaculars across Europe, let alone other areas of the world. For instance, the stolid insistence against split infinitives is a meaningless carry over from atavistic Latin grammar lessons which really don't apply to English. Erosion? I'd say evolution. Sometimes, I will agree, the changes are not for the better. But it's not black and white.

  5. I agree with you somewhat, sephardicjew; however, I am quite discouraged at the modern English language's lack of variation and beauty. Everything has become so streamlined and "simple" to the point where people read Stephen King – under the impression that they are exercising their mind with quality fiction – come across words like "qualm" or "loquacious," and have to pull out a dictionary to understand the context! (Yes…I said what I meant. Jokingly. Wouldn't that be bad though?!? lol) I'm an empassioned lover of classic and premodern fiction (Especially from the 19th and early 20th century). Woolf, the Brontes, Coleridge, Shakespeare (although I hate to admit it…it's like a music lover admitting to listening to the radio) , etc and occasionally stoop away from the Fiction and Literature section of Barnes and Noble into the "Best Sellers," just to see what's being taken for quality reads these days. I've got to say, every time I pick up a modern book "just to stay in the times" a bit, I am sorely dissappointed at not only the pathetic plots (I probably wouldn't normally emphasis pathetic…but I just finished Dan Brown's "Angels and Demons." lol) but the simple, 4th grade English they use truely disturbes me! I don't claim any great level of English proficiency, but I do know I have a grasp much more firm than most when it comes to vocabulary and syntax, and the fact that I can be considered well learned doesn't say much for the American and English speaking public. Anyways, to what I'm trying to say…hopefully you read a decent amount…here's a quote, you should recognize, as a friendly rebuttal to your comment on the language's evolution:   "Newspeak was the official language of Oceania and had been devised to meet the ideological needs of Ingsoc, or English Socialism…Meanwhile it gained ground steadily, all Party members tending to use Newspeak words and grammatical constructions more and more in their everyday speech…The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. Newspeak was designed not to extend but to diminish the range of thought, and this purpose was indirectly assisted by cutting the choice of words down to a minimum." With a stretch of humour, doesn't this just scream out to you: "Hey! Whassup my fly homey? Me and everyone is goin' down to the theatre…supposed to be a killer flick that's all intellectual or somethin'!" He he. Anyways, I'm done rambling! (By the by, it's good to know there's someone here that can give us excellent insights, like possible origins of Gregg, as you posted in your other message.) ./[tyler]

  6. My earlier post, I hope, did not give you the idea that I feel English is taking a turn for the better without exception. I was merely mentioning that minor changes like 'wh' pronunciation did not seem so important to retain, and may end up polishing the language, that essentially all that is traditionally and formulaically standard is not what is neccessarily 'the best.' But then again, your Orwell quotation was quite an excellently-chosen reminder (nicely done!) regarding language. There should, of course, be some sort of reins pulling in the more frivolous speakers.   I feel that when it comes to languages there will always be an elite which looks down with disdain on the common mass of slang-slinging proletariats who sunder and batter verbs (doing–> do'in; ask–>ax, etc.) while showing no less clemency with articles and nouns, dangling modifiers and comma splices, faulty parallelism and style in general. I'm sure people a hundred years ago were just as chagrined at the poor usage of English by the laity as are we today!   : )   However… (I'm flitting from one opinion to the other) I must say that the level of reading of the average English-speaker was probably, as you say, much more advanced fifty years ago than today. Certainly, for instance, when one reads a book as innocuous as "Wind in the Willows" one is exposed to a brand of English that to most high schoolers today would seem awfully 'pristine,' to say the least, though to me it's a delightful specimen of what a man/woman with a proper liberal education can do with a language that is presented even as a children's book.   As for your choice of books, I would say that there are some writers who simply must be read no matter they're radio-like aura; though they may be old news to the world, they're wondrously fresh to our (new readers') eyes.   But yinnawayz (heh heh), back to shorthand. : )

  7. I know what you mean, Tyler.  I like the old stuff like Moby Dick.  Okay, okay, so I used a dictionary on every other word.  I personally find it regrettable that our modern language lacks the color it had a century ago.   At the same time, I agree, Shepard, that there is no cause to get one's panties in a bunch over vernacular progression.  After all, today's dictionary was yesterday's slang.

  8. Dangerarranger: while I like some of your points, I wouldn't equate complexity with versatility. For instance, while some of Webster's proposed changes seemed a little drastic, the idea of "color" (as opposed to colour) has not been deleterious. Spellings that are not drastic but tend to improve the spelling-system don't seem to have hurt the language. The aesthetics of spelling a word 'esthetics' or 'aesthetics' has in no way been denied the would-be writer.   As for 'synonym frequency,' oftentimes the words have connotative differences thus expanding even more the depth of the language. But this is not the same thing as a 'standard British English,' primarily because new words have been created and imbibed by the language for centuries ('imbibe' itself is a recent concoction). Words like "belittle" are of American origin. The UK no longer holds exclusive right to the yardstick of diverse, beautiful and clean English. I believe that good vocabulary has always been in the domain (little reason to use the alternative 'demesne' for the sake of a better 'tradition') of an elite, and now this elite is not solely that of England.   Many American writers have created a most beautiful English language whose expressive ability and vastitude is equal to the challenge of British writers but by no means a mimesis of traditional or 'standard' British English.  

  9. Well, the opinion really resides in whether or not change in the language is good. I enjoy preserving the language as a complex language, which means spelling in the United Kingdom fashion (rather than that strange fellow Webster's English). The idea of synonyms, I think, is a fantastic property of English that people seem to be removing with age. We see this in the slow obsoletion of certain words like "dissuade" (which we have replaced with persuade against), "nimiety", (which we have replaced with only the word "surplus". It is as if functional society is trying to turn the language into Spanish (in terms of synonym frequency). I call it erosion only because I am a stickler to the classic English language. I almost never see any change for the good in our language.

  10. Well, with Webster spellings, as I said, I didn't, like you, agree with most of his changes. I felt the -our and -or thing was innocuous, though I can agree in general that it might as well be left the way it is.   Now while I am with you on the spelling changes, I completely disagree about the English language and its 'originators.' The language isn't a 'British' language anymore. I don't think the country that birthed it has any extra right over it, since English is an amalgam of many source languages that come from all over Europe (particularly Normandy French, Greek and Latin) and it wasn't like an art that people consciously created. It was an organic growth. Meh, I guess we just innately disagree about that. Leave it at that, I suppose.   But I must add, since you mentioned the line between communicative and aesthetic flavour, that I would say the writer I feel best (off the top of my head; there are others) combines the two is probably P.G. Wodehouse.

  11. I do not doubt the beauty of the English language under most US modifications, but I certainly do doubt the beauty of Websterian words like tung and laf. I just do not understand the meaning behind some of Webster's spelling changes. Converting written English back into a phonetic language is impossible, I feel; so there it seems pointless to respell words like flavour and neighbour. The whole matter, here, seems to be reason for revision. It is not a good thing to "dumb down" English to make it more understandable to the average teenager, and I am sure that you would agree with me, there. 🙂 Most of my peers couldn't spell or define the word "utlility".

    As to the demesne of the English language, I do think that the nation that birthed it ought to at least be the centre of its standard. The largest reason that Webster tried to modify English was to make the language of the US different from that of the English. I do not really want the English-speaking world to speak and write in Middle English (I am sure you all remember "Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote" from high school). I am fine with reading the US standard, I just prefer to write with the English language. 🙂 (Heck, when I write longhand, I even use long s's, but just for the sake of it being ornate).

    My point is: finding the purpose of English between communication and beauty is difficult. It seems, often, that one must be sacrificed for the other these days.

  12. my two cents: I want to thank all of you for your input on the English language. Some of your comments have had me laughing for a couple of hours so I had to come back here and put in my pennies worth. I have a Standard English Dictionary that is dated 1949. It is about the size of my computer tower. It was given to me by my Mother which she used in college. The dictionary that is being used by high school students in the library is about half the size.  I feel that no matter what I have to say about the degridation of the English language will be but a breath-in-the-wind.  The folks in school now will be writing the dictionarys of tomorrow.  Scares the heck out of me. But I think what the language boiles down to for me is wheather or not I can pass a job interview with the language that I have today. I would like to see a few of these kids walk into an office full of applicants and try to get a job with the 'Newspeak' language as Tyler mentioned: "Hey! Whassup my fly homey? Me and everyone is goin' down to the theatre…supposed to be a killer flick that's all intellectual or somethin'!" I wonder where that persons application would lie after the interveiw. LOLOL You all are the best, I love doing this class with you 🙂 Kelly

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