Whatever will happen next? (Again.)

A friend pointed me at an article about how the The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary has dropped thousands of hyphens in its new edition. Hurrah, you might think, and be forgiven for doing so.

Then the article goes on to say:

The thing is – and it’s been niggling at my mind since I read this – there are implications to this kind of top-down language ruling. Imagine if the Oxford had decided to simplify English spelling, or any of the other irrational aspects of English.

… and a sketch from about 1998 springs to mind (which immediately ascribes it to Kevin Baker and John Finnemore, possibly without justification) where they did just that. They started out by removing ‘pointless’ words (words about cricket, adverbs, that sort of thing), and proceeded from there to mutilate the entire language, all in a single five minute scene. The strangest thing was that you could still tell what they were talking about after they’d removed all the nouns.

Not so much life imitating art, as my brain making strange connections where it really should have done some hefty forgetting instead. I seem to get that quite a lot these days.

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