Every evening, my late boyfriend and I used to hold hands and take a three mile walk through a neighborhood we called “E-ville”. Everywhere you looked in this area you saw an unnecessary or misplaced e. Towne Centre. Ye Olde Fill-in-the-Blank.
I have never understood this lack of self-esteem in Americans. We seem to feel that if we use Elizabethan English, the product we are hawking is somehow rendered superior. What’s wrong with our own verbiage? Why is it better to shop at a shoppe?
And we do this to a ridiculous degree. Pizza Shoppe? I strongly suspect that Queen Elizabeth I wouldn’t have known a pizza if it had hit her in the lace collar.
Yes, the words of Shakespeare are impressive, despite the howls of protest from high school students everywhere. He did introduce nearly 3,000 words to our dictionary after all. Who else can say that? But if you think about it, he pretty much had to make up words because the dictionary as we know it didn’t really become widely used until long after his death.
There’s nothing wrong with nostalgia per se. It’s natural to long for simpler times. But lest we forget, those times also came with plagues, smallpox and typhus.
So let’s embrace our modern tongue. Let’s take ownership of our shops and centers and theaters and celebrate who we have become! We owe a debt of gratitude to our olde ancestors, but that doesn’t mean that we need to begrudge progress.
Queen Elizabeth I
[Image credit: poetry foundation.org]