In John Algeo’s article, “Americans are Ruining English,” the author examines the changes in American and British English and addresses the perception that Americans are ruining the English language. Algeo notes that language evolves, and judging the worth of speech is highly personal and idiosyncratic. This paper will explore the changes that have taken place in American vs. British English and determine if one is the more dominant form of English and which is a sheer variety. Furthermore, I will connect the content of the reading to an observation that I have made about language use in our community.
The article contrasts American and British English to explore the modifications. The author mentions that British explorers remarked on the “purity” of the ancient English used in the new continent. But as soon as America gained its freedom in 1776, it began distorting the English language. (Algeo). Americans are creating new nouns and verbs that shouldn’t exist, which is transforming the language. The author is mindful of the widespread belief among England’s buzzing elites that America is destroying the English language. Many British academics equate the words “new,” “American,” and “distasteful,” (Algeo). However, linguistic change is unavoidable, just like any other part of reality. Language or anything else that does not change is meaningless, even though perspectives on what is favorable or detrimental, worthwhile or insignificant, crude or appealing, barbaric or classy, impairing or transforming, are incredibly individualized.
Even with these improvements, it is difficult to say if Americans are destroying the English language. Algeo, for instance, claims that Americans are transforming and harming English. Change is unavoidable, though, and there are no standards to evaluate the value of language. We all have unique criteria for what is good or bad, worthwhile or worthless, barbaric or exquisite, tarnishing or healing. We may not like certain modifications or even the concept of advancement, but Algeo concludes that a language that does not evolve is lifeless. (Algeo). Therefore, the assertion that Americans are destroying English has no supporting evidence.
It is hard to pinpoint which dialect of English is more prevalent. Both British and American English are widely spoken and have distinctive characteristics. American English, particularly in technology and commerce, might be claimed to be more frequently spoken and understood globally, making it the more popular version of English. Nonetheless, British English remains influential in literature, media, and culture.
The author suggests that Americans have corrupted the English language by creating new nouns and verbs that should not exist. However, Algeo highlights that language change is inevitable, and judging the worth of language is highly personal and idiosyncratic. In connecting this information to my observation in the community, people often adopt new slang words and phrases not found in the traditional English language. Young people usually create these words and phrases, and they become popular among their peers. However, older people in the community, especially those unfamiliar with modern trends, tend to disapprove of these new words and phrases, arguing that they are ruining the language. Similarly, some people in my community view colloquial language in official settings, such as academic writing, as brutal and corrupt. However, like Algeo, change in language is inevitable, and we should embrace it rather than resist it, as language is a living thing that evolves.
In conclusion, the article suggests that Americans have contributed to the changes in the English language. Still, these changes are inevitable and cannot be objectively judged as improvements or degenerations. British and American English have distinct features, and while American English may be more dominant in some contexts, British English remains influential in others. Ultimately, the article highlights the importance of personal preference and the right to have opinions regarding language.
Algeo, John. “Americans are Ruining English.” PBS: Public Broadcasting Service, www.pbs.org/speak/words/sezwho/ruining. Accessed 29 Mar. 2023.