Sunday, November 14, 2021

The Great White Dope

I concluded my last post, part three of my language trilogy, on what an exciting and sometimes frustrating thing it is when languages evolve, especially when it happens before our very eyes. Sometimes it happens so fast it's hard to keep up. 

Take the word "woke". Woke is one of countless words that have entered Standard American English by way of Black American English. It's been around longer than I thought. According to the current Wikipedia article on the word, in the 1930s, the great blues singer Lead Belly used it in a song he wrote about the Scottsboro Nine and being black in America in the time of lynch mobs: 

I advise everybody, be a little careful when they go along through there – best stay woke, keep their eyes open.
According to Oxford English Dictionary, the first written appearance of the word is found in the headline of a 1962 New York Times Magazine article about white appropriation of Black English. The article was written by the author William Melvin Kelley who may or more likely, may not have been responsible for the title which to my ears anyway, sounds like it may have been written by a copy editor trying a little too hard:

If you're woke, you dig it.
The Wikipedia piece then sites a 1971 line from a play about the political activist and author Marcus Garvey written by Berry Beckham which puts the word more in its contemporary context: 

I been sleeping all my life. And now that Mr. Garvey done woke me up, I'm gon' stay woke. And I'm gon' help him wake up other black folk.

In this context, to be woke means to be aware of the ways of the world such as injustice, intolerance and needless to say, racism.

In recent years, woke has been hijacked by the ultra right as a catchall phrase for, well just about everything they don't like, especially all those inconvenient nasty little facts that suggest this country may not be as lily white as they picture it to be. Today the word is used almost exclusively as a term of sarcastic derision, even among people who don't subscribe to Trumplicanism. 

In that sense it's like the term "politically correct" which originally was used without irony by the left to describe, well just about everything they did like. The difference is that PC was always a troublesome term with authoritative connotations that sounded like it could have been lifted straight out of George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984

Of late, "woke" has been lumped together with PC, Black Lives Matter, ANTIFA, Critical Race Theory and other labels and expressions, as red herrings designed to send shivers up the spines of the MAGA crowd. Which is a shame because at least to me, in its original context, woke is a damned good word, spot on, immediate and to the point. It evokes care, passion and action for the betterment of the world, even if the attitudes of some of the members of "woke culture" may be rather stringent in their attitudes. Anyone who is to the left of Donald Trump has moved on from the word in its original context which for them has become as outdated as the phrase "twenty three skidoo."

So guess who just uttered the word "woke" the other day.

I didn't think there was any way I could dislike Aaron Rodgers more. As the all-star, MVP  quarterback of the much despised (around this house) Green Bay Packers, Rodgers has been a thorn in my side and my son's ever since he began picking apart the defense of our team, the Chicago Bears, after taking over from the equally annoying Brett Favre in 2008. Of all the heartbreaking moments for my son and me that came courtesy of Rodgers, the final game of the 2013 season had to be the worst. The NFC North Championship came down to that one game. With the Bears up by one, the Packers had the ball with 4th and 8 on the Bears' 48 yard line with 48 seconds left on the clock in the fourth quarter. Sorry for all the football jargon. Anyway, all that stood between the Bears and the playoffs that year was one lousy 4th down stop, and this is what happened.  

To add insult to many years of injury, a few weeks ago during his last game at Soldier Field in Chicago to date, after running the ball in for a touchdown, he taunted Bears fans by saying: 

I'll own you all my fucking life, I own you, I still own you, I still own you.

The act was pure bush league for sure, despite what he said being undeniably true. 

Of course all that is forgivable because had you asked me a couple weeks ago if I'd like to see Aaron Rodgers in a Bear's uniform, I'd have said in a heartbeat, "hell yeah."

So what happened in the past couple weeks?

Aaron Rodgers got caught with his pants down. 

He tested positive for COVID and had to truthfully address his vaccination status. It turns out that Rodgers is not vaccinated. 

Here I'll go on record with a somewhat unpopular opinion at least among my friends and family by saying that I understand why some people are hesitant to get the COVID vaccine. Despite the overwhelming evidence that the vaccine is safe and effective, we have to admit that no one knows for sure the long term effects of the vaccine that is being put into our arms. As I mentioned in other posts, I believe a healthy skepticism is a good thing, even skepticism of science that has certainly failed us before. On the other hand, blind skepticism of science especially if it is ideologically motivated, is worse than a blind faith in science.

Anyway, I believe that Aaron Rodgers and anyone else who chooses not to get vaccinated has a right to do so.


All of us have to be responsible for our actions, especially when it comes to the health and safety of our fellow human beings. The best evidence we have is that the most effective way we can get ourselves out of the grips of this pandemic, is for as many people to be vaccinated as possible, AND continue other preventative routines such as social distancing, mask wearing, etc. 

If people choose to exercise their right to not be vaccinated, it is their RESPONSIBILITY, to follow the protocols for the unvaccinated, set by their places of employment and the recommendations of government agencies devoted to public health and safety. This includes frequent testing, even more stringent mask wearing and social distancing, and most important of all, being honest about vaccination status. 

From all signs, while Rogers was tested frequently, he failed to live up to the protocols for the unvaccinated, and was clearly dishonest* about his vaccination status. By doing so, he unnecessarily put the people closest to him, especially his teammates at risk of contracting a potentially deadly disease. 

That is more than bush league, it is unconscionable. 

Then to add insult to injury, something we've seen he's used to doing, rather than coming clean and apologizing for his actions, Rodgers doubled down, claiming he's the victim of a "witch hunt" (where have we heard that term before?) against people who think differently from the norm about the virus. 

Rogers said this in a TV interview:

I realize I’m in the crosshairs of the woke mob right now, so before the final nail gets put in my cancel culture casket, I’d like to set the record straight on some of the blatant lies that are out there about me now.
He didn't elaborate on any of those "lies" about him but he did go on at length espousing discredited information on the three major vaccines, including the risk of them causing infertility.

Then Rodgers did something predictable as a newly anointed member of the good ol' boy, conspiracy theory slinging, anti-woke mob/cancel culture warrior club. He played the Martin Luther King card:
The great MLK said, ‘You have a moral obligation to object to unjust rules and rules that made no sense.
Usually the MLK card is played by white guys, and sometimes women, to prove they're not racists when they are in the middle of arguments that could be construed as being racist. I'm not exactly sure why Rodgers felt the need to bring up Dr. King since race is not at issue here. Maybe it's because so many of the people he works with are black, and who through his selfish negligence he's put at risk. Perhaps he feels the need to bond with them in some misguided way.     

Anyway if you've been reading my posts, you know exactly how I feel about the MLK card so I won't go about beating a dead horse.  

But he could at least have correctly quoted the man. I believe this is the quote he was trying to summon up: 
One has not only a legal, but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.
I'm not exactly sure how a rule designed to protect the health and safety of people is "unjust."  Remember, there is no company rule in the NFL that requires players to get a shot in the arm, as there is for people in other professions such as public servants. All Rodgers had to do was follow the league protocol for unvaccinated players, and of course admit that he's not vaccinated. Those protocols may be time consuming, impractical, and just plain irritating, but unjust? C'mon. Rodgers went on to say that the protocol for unvaccinated players was simply a means to "shame them."

Sorry dude but if you're in the middle of a 134 million dollar contract to play a game, playing the role of the victim is not a very good look, especially when you compare your personal gripe to the struggle for civil rights and an end to poverty. 

Oh and you wanna talk "cancel culture?" I have two words for you, Colin Kaepernick. 

Now it's not really fair to compare Rodgers' actions with Kaepernick's, after all, the latter's public acts of protest during the national anthem had absolutely no potential for hurting anyone. Sure he pissed off a lot of people, but that's all.

And where has Kaepernick's football career gone after he took his famous stand against police brutality? That's right, he's been cancelled.

One the other hand, by not being clear about his vaccination status and not following NFL protocols for the unvaccinated, Rodger's put the health and safety of his teammates and other people he came in contact with at risk. And his punishment so far has been a $14,000 fine, which in his salary range doesn't even constitute a slap on the wrist.

But let's face it, no NFL sanction other than banishment from the game (which ain't gonna happen), would cause Rodgers much harm. 

At this writing, Rodgers is scheduled to return today to play in about an hour against the Seattle Seahawks in Green Bay. No doubt he will receive a hero's welcome in his home stadium. My fantasy is that a few of the members of the Packers' offensive line, the guys who put their health and safety on the line every play to protect their quarterback, "accidentally" miss some of their blocking assignments against the Seattle defense. That probably won't happen because offensive linemen are way more expendable than multi-million dollar quarterbacks, especially one of the best in the business. They unlike him, could be gone in a flash. But that's what is would take to show the bum Rodgers that what he did to his team really sucked.   

What's more, maybe then he'll understand a little better what woke really means. 

Is what Rodgers did unforgiveable? Certainly not. But this time if you asked me if I'd like to see him play for the Bears, in a heartbeat I'd say this: "not in a million years."

 *Rogers when asked about his vaccination status last August, told reporters that he was "immunized." Satisfied with the answer, the reporters present didn't press the issue. It turns out what Rogers was referring to was the a homeopathic "immunization protocol" prescribed by an unnamed medical team, not the vaccine which is what any reasonable person would have deduced from his answer. 

Monday, November 8, 2021

I Could Care Less, Literally

My mother bless her heart, is a stickler for grammar. This shouldn't come as a surprise after a long career as a teacher and public school administrator. To my mom, there are two forms of English, proper English, and everything else. 

The biggest bee in her grammatical bonnet is the confusion people often make of the English first person singular personal pronouns, that is to say, "I" and "me". The mistake usually occurs at the end of a sentence when folks refer to themselves along with another person as the objects of the sentence. So instead of saying "my mother gave a lecture on grammar to my sister and me" as is correct, they say "to my sister and I".

This drives my mother bananas. She inevitably responds: "you wouldn't say 'she gave a lecture to I' would you?, Then why would you say 'she gave a lecture to my sister and I'?". 

I've heard this so often in my life that I have to say this mistake sets off a little bell in my head as well, though I try to keep it to myself, except occasionally to members of my thoroughly ungrateful immediate family.

The rule is pretty basic, "I" is a subject pronoun, used when the speaker is performing the action described in the sentence. "Me" is an object pronoun, used when speaker is the recipient of the action.

I think the confusion stems from the fact that incorrectly using "me" instead of "I" seems rather crude, while the opposite is usually not. "I" gets more respect that "me", even though the two are technically not interchangeable. So I suppose most people figure: "when in doubt, use I."

Consider the signature phrase from everybody's favorite monster: 

"Me want cookie." 

Even a person with a rudimentary understanding of the English language knows that's wrong, which is what makes Cookie Monster so endearing. 

And yet, "me want cookie" is perfectly understandable, it's as unambiguous as giving something to "my sister and I." And intelligibility is the basic goal of any language right?

So really what's the big deal?

As with the question I posed a couple posts back about the difference between a language and a dialect, this is an extremely loaded question fraught with much peril because in two words: language matters.

In the business of foreign language learning, the teaching of grammar is a hotly debated topic. If you've ever studied a foreign language in school, as I believe most people in the United States have at one point or other, you probably got a large dose of instruction in the grammar of that language. Today many language teachers believe this is the reason why kids who study languages in school in this country may know the grammar like the back of their hand, but rarely come away with anywhere near an acceptable level of fluency in that language. 

They point to the most successful language learners in the world, children learning their first language and say that no one learns the grammar of their own language until they are able to speak the language. That is true for obvious reasons, imagine giving a one year old a lecture on the difference between subject and object pronouns and the correct usage of "I" and "me." 

But children learning their first language have several advantages over people learning a second language:

  • As I discussed in an earlier post, young children have an incredibly strong motivation to learn to speak the language that everyone around them is speaking but they're not. 
  • Every waking hour for them is devoted to language learning because it is built into all their other activities. 
  • Children learning their first language don't have another language to fall back on.
  • Young children haven't learned yet to be embarrassed by making mistakes, and learning from our mistakes is perhaps the single most useful tool we possess in language learning. 
  • And yes as people like to point out, the mind of a small child is particularly well suited, some would say designed to learn languages.

Yet I would point out that people (including older children) learning a second, third and beyond language have a few advantages over small children. They already know what language is and have a good idea on how language works. Another advantage is that most people over a certain age know how to read and can put that knowledge to good use, even if the alphabet of the target language is different from that of their first language. (I'm not sure however if this applies to learning a completely different writing system such as going from English to Chinese or vice versa).

In essence, grammar is to a language what architecture is to a building. When we think of architecture we usually think of superficial things like how a building looks, what materials it's constructed of, how it fits into its environment, etc. These are all essential, but the most important element of architecture, combined with engineering of course, is how a building works from the most basic, will it be able to stand, to how it accommodates the people who will use it, how well it is suited for what it was intended and countless other more mundane issues relating to function. 

Like architecture, grammar has its fine points, such as the difference between "I" and "me", which are the superficial parts of language. But grammar also serves as the foundation of any language; with just words scattered about aimlessly and no grammar to serve as a blue print on how to put them together, no language could function.

Consider this list of phrases:

  1. Marcus hit the ball.
  2. The ball hit Marcus.
  3. Hit Marcus the ball.
  4. Hit the ball Marcus. 
  5. The ball Marcus hit.
  6. Marcus the ball hit.

These represent all six possible combinations of three words (I'm counting "the ball" here as one word).

Despite the same words appearing in each phrase, each phrase means something different, unless you are speaking to Yoda, in which case number one and number six mean exactly the same thing.

Now here are numbers 1 through 4 again, this time with their Latin translations:

  1. Marcus hit the ball - Marcus pilam pulsavit.
  2. The ball hit Marcus - Marcum pila pulsavit.
  3. Hit Marcus the ball. - Marco pilam pulsa.
  4. Hit the ball Marcus. - Marce pilam pulsa.

As we see, syntax, or word order in English gives each sentence a different meaning, while in Latin the word order (which here I've deliberately kept consistent) does not change the meaning of the sentence. What does change in Latin are the endings of the words which indicate how each word functions in its sentence. 

From above, the most obvious change in Latin is the name Marcus whose function is different in each sentence. In the first, Marcus is doing the action (he's hitting the ball), so he's the subject of the sentence. In the second, it's the ball that's doing the hitting. What's getting hit? Poor Marcus, he's the direct recipient of the action so this time he's the direct object, hence he gets a different ending. The next two sentences are commands and in Latin (like many other languages), the verb changes "conjugations", here from pulsavit (to be technical, the indicative, third person singular, past perfect, active form of the verb to hit) to pulsa (the imperative, yadda yadda yadda). As for Marcus, again he's the object, but this time it's the ball that is the direct recipient of the action, it's getting hit, while Marcus, the intended recipient of the ball that's been hit, is classified as the indirect object, and gets yet another ending. Finally in sentence four, Marcus is being addressed directly by the speaker, so here Latin requires us to use a special case and ending for our friend, called the vocative.

What this little exercise illustrates is that learning fundamental grammar like this is essential to both speaking and understanding any language. In the case of English, it is essential to understand how word order effects the meaning of a sentence. In Latin, as well as contemporary highly inflected languages such as Czech, Hungarian, Arabic and scores more, it is essential to understand how the "inflection" of words changes their function.  

Otherwise you have no idea who's doing what to whom.

Anyway, I said a few paragraphs back that the difference between "I" and "me" is superficial in English, but that wasn't always the case. Long ago, English, like Latin was a highly inflected language with nouns, pronouns and adjectives  "declined" to indicate the function of the word. In Old English the equivalent of "I" (Ic) was the nominative of the first person singular pronoun, and "me" (spelled the same way then) would have been the "accusative (direct object) declension, as well as the dative (indirect object). Then there was a third declension as well, the genitive "min", the equivalent of today's "my".

That hasn't changed. 

But English gradually stopped declining its adjectives and nouns, except in the case of the genitive where a noun like "John" becomes "John's". In modern English, only pronouns are declined beyond the genitive case, and then inconsistently. "You" for example is the same in the nominative, accusative and dative cases, but changes to "your" in the genitive. And while "he" declines just like "I", from "he" to "him" to "his", the genitive form of "she" is "her", which is the same as the accusative and dative cases.

Go figure.

Because of this, English is categorized as a lightly inflected language but in reality, if you're declining some words but not others, the whole point of inflection is lost. In order to understand who's doing what to whom, what has taken the place of inflections are the addition of extra words, chiefly prepositions whose function was once implied by the different declensions, and you guessed it, a strong emphasis on word order. So the few and far between instances of inflection in English are merely vestiges (a good word borrowed from Latin) of Old English that no longer serve any functional purpose. 

The same goes for verb conjugations. The children of Latin, aka Romance languages, also gave up on noun declensions eons ago, but they still conjugate their verbs. In a language such as Spanish which has about 100 different conjugations for each verb, verbs function as the heart of a sentence, telling us not only what the action is, but also who the subject is, when the action takes place, the duration of the action, the likelihood of the action taking place, the mood of the speaker, and lots of other things. To do the same thing in English which takes a higgledy-piggledy approach to verb conjugation, again we need to add extra words to serve all those purposes. Consequently the few verbs we do conjugate fully, such as the verb "to be", is done out of tradition, style and habit, rather than function.

In other words, saying something like "I be hungry", is no less intelligible then saying "I am hungry."

If language were based purely upon logic and common sense, English would have lost these remaining vestiges of the old language centuries ago. We'd all be saying "I be hungry", and no one would bat an eye at "she gave my sister and I something", because me and I would be interchangeable.

But hardly anything about the evolution of language is logical, it's all about the way people talk. Look at the two examples I give in the title to this post, one expression and one word that have come to mean in our day, the exact opposite of what they seem. Even my language fussy mother sees no irony in saying "I could care less" about something when what she really means is that she could NOT care less. And don't get me started on the word literally, literally not meaning literally anymore. 

I don't often say my mother is wrong, but I have to disagree with her on there being only one proper English. As we just saw, the rules regarding language apply, until they don't anymore. If a dictionary defines a word one way, and a critical mass of people speaking the language defines it another way, the dictionary doesn't stand a chance. The same goes with grammar. When was the last time you heard someone saying (not in jest), the grammatically correct, "It is I"? 

Languages evolve. If languages were were immutable, they'd still be speaking Latin in Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, and Romania.  And we'd be speaking God knows what here in the Anglosphere. 

Furthermore, language is more than a means for mass communication. I have a friend who has developed one of the least common languages in the world, only she and her brother speak it. I heard it once, and for all I could tell, the language was related to Martian. Some other languages may be more common than my friend's, but are still not intended to be in the domain of the general public; think of the Navaho code talkers of WWII.. Don't get me wrong, there's a good reason to have a "standard" language around such as the one I inherited from my mother. Lot's and lots of people speak it, therefore lots and lots of people can communicate with one another. But it's important to remember that languages such as the standard English of Britain and the US, get to be "lingua francas", not because they are the highest examples of linguistic art, moral virtue or intellectual fortitude, but purely out of chance, power and influence.

Beyond that, the way we talk, speaks volumes about who we are, where we come from, and what we want people to think about us.  

In a 1975 television interview, (at the 8:45 mark of the linked video), John Lennon told Tom Snyder that the one and only axe the Beatles ever had to grind was their insistence, despite a great deal of resistance in Britain, on maintaining their working class identity and the most salient symbol of it, their distinct Liverpool accent. This brought up an interesting discussion on the nature of  "standard languages," giving away no trace of the speaker coming from anyplace in particular. 

Below you can see Lennon ten years earlier, reading from his book, A Spaniard in the Works. Between the gibberish, the cheeky malaprops, and Lennon's intentionally exaggerated accent, his reading takes a little effort to comprehend, even for fluent English speakers. In the clip you can compare  Lennon's Liverpool "Scouse" accent, with the standard British "Received Pronunciation" (RP), otherwise known as "BBC English" of the program host, BBC personality Kenneth Allsop. 



At this late date it may be hard to appreciate how truly radical and influential the Beatles were as far as the English language is concerned. After they hit the big time and refused to conform to the accepted standards by changing their accents to RP, others followed suit. If you listen to the BBC today, you'll find a healthy variety of British regional accents that would have been unthinkable before the Fabs came on the scene. 

Across the big pond at the same time in the US, the Civil Rights movement was gaining full steam and with it came the another debate on the language of a group far more marginalized than the British working class, Black Americans. 

Black American English is a profoundly complex subject so I'll let someone who knows what he's talking about, American linguist and social commentator John McWhorter deal with it in this interview from 2018:

If you don't get a chance to watch all 54 minutes of this interview, one of Dr. McWhorter's main themes that he has written about often, and which he states succinctly toward the end of the video, is that ways of speaking outside the realm of standard languages such as RP British or General American English, are not by any means degraded forms of the mother tongue, but bona fide dialects in their own right, with their own complicated vocabulary, syntax and grammar. He emphasizes that people like the interviewer who can easily navigate between the languages they grew up with at home, in their community, and the standard language of the country where they live, are actually the norm around the world. People like me who learned the standard language from the start, are the exception. And as I pointed out in my penultimate post, multi-lingual people have a distinct advantage over monolingual people.

However I would challenge the opinion expressed by some of the questioners in the Q&A portion, who imply that disdain toward black English (which certainly exists) is purely racist. Some lament for example that it is unfair that full-blown black English, (vocabulary, syntax, grammar,etc), would not be acceptable in a job interview. After all, why can't people talk the way they want, whenever and wherever they like?

The truth is, regional accents and dialects exist all over the world including in this country, the most extreme of which are found in rural and working class areas where there is not a great deal of mobility and contact with outsiders. The full-blown version of these dialects are often unintelligible to those who are not a part of the community, not making them very useful for communicating with the rest of the world. 

Probably the most familiar American regional dialects are the rich variety of those found in the American South. It's no secret that among many people, there is a bias against people speaking with a Southern accent, even among Southerners. But just about every large Northern American city has an accent/dialect associated with it as well, from Boston to New York, Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, and Milwaukee to yes, Chicago

The linked video is a good indication of the distinct accent heard in parts of  this city, but like black English, it's more than just an accent. Full-blown Chicagoese consists of its own vocabulary, syntax and grammar as well. 

Like any good regional dialect, Chicago has slang that wouldn't be understood elsewhere. For example, we have a popular local supermarket chain called simply, Jewel. But most people here refer to it (as I do) as "the Jewel", or even "the Jewels". Jewel is so tied into our local culture that the word has become a generic term for grocery store, just as "Coke" has become the generic word for soda in the South. By the way, we call soda, soda pop, or more commonly just "pop" around these parts. 
And while Standard English does not provide a plural form of the second person pronoun, Chicagoese does: "yous."

Now if you were to ask some friends to accompany you to a grocery store in Chicago to purchase some beverages, you might say something like this:

Ey dere, I'm goin' over by da Jewels t'get me some pop, j'yous wanna come wit?     

My guess is that type of speech wouldn't fly too well at a job interview either. 

So we adapt our language to fit the situation. We all do it, well maybe not my mother, but just about everybody else. And you don't even have to give up your local accent. Think of Anthony Fauci and his strong Brooklyn accent. Or the greatest former president we ever had, Jimmy Carter and his Georgia drawl. Or Martin Luther King who had as great a command of standard American English as anyone, but no one would ever question judging by  his voice, that he was black.
In that sense, language is like fashion where we adjust what we wear to the time and the occasion, but maintain our sense of style (or lack of it) just the same. You wouldn't wear a tank top and shorts to a job interview, or at least I hope you wouldn't. Nor would you wear a top hat, white tie and tails or an evening gown. The same goes with language, you wouldn't speak at an interview the same way you speak to your close friends, nor would you speak as if you were delivering the eulogy at a funeral. 

That shouldn't be too hard to figure out.

The idea of commonly understood languages being separate from local dialects has been around for thousands of years. The more languages one knows the better, better still to know at least one language spoken by a plurality of the people you're likely to come in contact with. 

In a perfect world, no one would ever judge another person by the way they speak, period.  It' is all about communication after all. Folks would if they wanted, speak the language they learned as children at home with their families, the language they learned on the playground with their friends, and at least enough of the standard language of their country to get by (to the extent they desire) in the society in which they live. The cherry on top of all that would be to learn lots of other languages as well. Except for the judging other people part, this is how the world has worked for millennia.

It's true that the language of the masses (take your pick) came to be that way because of power and influence, it might even be the language of oppression.  But it doesn't have to remain that way. Language doesn't belong to the establishment, or to the people who write the grammar books and the dictionaries, and especially not to the colonizers. A language belongs to the people who speak it.

Not only does contemporary English have roots in Old German and Norse, the languages of the Celts, and Latin, much of that via French, but it also strongly influenced by the languages and cultures (from the minuet to hip hop and everything in between), of the people of all races and ethnic backgrounds who live anywhere English is spoken. 

As such the English language changes every day, as it always has.

And dat my friend, is a beautiful ting. 

If you don't like that, if you think your language should never change, remaining eternally immutable, well to paraphrase Rick Blaine from Casa Blanca
"We'll always have Latin."