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WHO CAN FIX A LIVING LANGUAGE?

"Even later, Dr. Johnson in the plan of his dictionary, issued in 1747, declared that one end of his undertaking was "to fix the English language."

But a man could not compile a voca bulary of the tongue without learning something of the nature of speech. By the time he finished his work he had been cured of this particular error." Whilst all human affairs are changing, it is, as he says, absurd to imagine that the language which repeats all human thoughts and feelings can remain unaltered."

[1]We hope that Telugu Lexicographers are not more incorrigible.

"It seemed impossible for most men of the past-the impossibility continues for some men of the present (as it does for the orthodox Telugu Pandits: Ed:)-to comprehend the elementary principle that in order to have a language become fixed' it is first necessary that those who speak it should become dead-dead at least intellectually, if not physically. Then, indeed it can undergo no change for there is no one to change it."

If views such as these could be put forth by scholars like Bentley and Johnson, who presumably studied language as a science, nothing more rational was to be expected from men of letters who were familiar with it merely as an instrument of Expression. The desirability of fixing the speech


  1. Leslie Stephen page 38.