Language and tone in swifts work

Discussion and Bed Up at the League, says a friend, there had been one night a brisk conversational discussion, as to what would happen on the Morrow of the Revolution, finally shading off into a vigorous statement by various friends of their views on the future of the fully-developed new society. For the rest, there were six persons present, and consequently six sections of the party were represented, four of which had strong but divergent Anarchist opinions. One of the sections, says our friend, a man whom he knows very well indeed, sat almost silent at the beginning of the discussion, but at last got drawn into it and finished by roaring out very loud, and damning all the rest for fools; after which befell a period of noise, and then a lull, during which the aforesaid section, having said good-night very amicably, took his way home by himself to a western suburb, using the means of travelling which civilisation has forced upon us like a habit. But this frame of mind he was so used to, that it didn't last him long, and after a brief discomfort, caused by disgust with himself for having lost his temper which he was also well used tohe found himself musing on the subject-matter of discussion, but still discontentedly and unhappily.

Language and tone in swifts work

My Lord, [1] What I had the Honour of mentioning to Your Lordship some time ago in Conversation, was not a new Thought, just then started by Accident or Occasion, but the Result of long Reflection; and I have been confirmed in my Sentiments by the Opinion of some very judicious Persons, with whom I consulted.

They all agreed, That noting would be of greater Use towards the Improvement of Knowledge and Politeness, than some effectual Method for Correcting, Enlarging, and Ascertaining our Language; and they think it a Work very possible to be compassed, under the Protection of a Prince, the Countenance and Encouragement of a Ministry, and the Care of Proper Persons chosen for such an Undertaking.

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A Topick which some have carried so far, that they would not have us, by any means, think of preserving our Civil or Religious Constitution, because we were engaged in a War abroad. It will be among the distinguishing Marks of your Ministry, My Lord, that you had the Genius above all such Regards, and that no reasonable Proposal for the Honour, the Advantage, or the Ornament of Your Country, however foreign to Your immediate Office was ever neglected by You.

I confess, the Merit of this Candor and Condescension is very much lessened, because Your Lordship hardly leaves us room to offer our good Wishes, removing all our Difficulties, and supplying all our Wants, faster than the most visionary Projector can adjust his Schemes.

But lest Your Lordship should think my Censure to be too severe, I shall take leave to be more particular. Further, we find, that the Roman Legions here, were at length all recalled to help their Country against the Goths, and other barbarous Invaders.

Mean time, the Britains, left to shift for themselves, and daily harassed by cruel Inroads from the Picts, were forced to call in the Saxons for their Defense; who, consequently, reduced the greatest Part of the Island to their own Power, drove the Britains into the most remote and mountainous Parts, and the rest of the Country, in Customs, Religion, and Language, became wholly Saxon.

This I take to be the Reason why there are more Latin words remaining in the British Tongue, than in the old Saxon; which, excepting some few Variations in the Orthography, is the same, in most original Words, with our present English, as well as with the German, and other Northern Dialects.

William the Conqueror proceeded much further; bringing over with him vast numbers of that Language and tone in swifts work scattering them in every Monastery; giving them great Quantities of Land, directing all Pleadings to be in that Language, and endeavouring to make it universal in the Kingdom.

This, at least, is the Opinion generally received. But Your Lordship hath fully convinced me, that the French Tongue made yet a greater Progress here under Harry the Second, who had large Territories on that Continent, both from his Father and his Wife, made frequent Journeys and Expeditions there, and was always attended with a number of his Countrymen, Retainers at his Court.

For some Centuries after, there was a constant Intercourse between France and England, by the Language and tone in swifts work we possessed there, and the Conquests we made; so that our Language, between two and three hundred Years ago, seems to have had a greater mixture with French.

I could produce several Instances of both kinds, if it were of any Use or Entertainment.

Language and tone in swifts work

I shall only observe, That the Latin, the French, and the English, seem to have undergone the same Fortune. Whether our Language or the French will decline as fast as the Roman did, is a Question that would perhaps admit more Debate than it is worth.

There were many Reasons for the Corruptions of the last: As, the Change of their Government into a Tyranny, which ruined the Study of Eloquence, there being no further Use of Encouragement for popular Orators: The slavish Disposition of the Senate and the People, by which the Wit and Eloquence of the Age were wholly turned into Panegyrick, the most barren of all Subjects: The great Corruption of Manners, and Introduction of forein Luxury, with forein Terms to express it; with several others that might be assigned: Not to mention those Invasions from the Goths and Vandals, which are too obvious to insist on.

And the French for these last Fifty Years hath been polishing as much as it will bear, and appears to be declining by the natural Inconstancy of that People, and the Affection of some late Authors to introduce and multiply Cant Words, which is the most ruinous Corruption in any Language.

La Bruyere, a late celebrated Writer among them, makes use of many hundred new Terms, which are not to be found in any of the common Dictionaries before his Time. But the English Tongue is not arrived to such a Degree of Perfection, as to make us apprehend any Thoughts of its Decay; and if it were once refined to a certain Standard, perhaps there might be Ways found out to fix it for ever; or at least till we are invaded and made a Conquest by some other State; and even then our best Writings might probably be preserved with Care, and grow into Esteem, and the Authors have a Chance of Immortality.

The Chinese have Books in their Language above two Thousand Years old, neither have the frequent Conquests of the Tartars been able to alter it. The other Languages of Europe I know nothing of, neither is there any occasion to consider them. From the Civil War to this present Time, I am apt to doubt whether the Corruptions in our Language have not at least equalled the Refinements of it; and these Corruptions very few of the best Authors of our Age have wholly escaped.

During the Usurpation, such and Infusion of Enthusiastick Jargon prevailed in every Writing, as was not shook off in many Years after. To this succeeded that Licentiousness which entered with the Restoration, and from infecting our Religion and Morals, fell to corrupt our Language; which last was not like to be much improved by those who at that Time made up the Court of King Charles the Second; either such who had followed Him in His Banishment, or who had been altogether conversant in the Dialect of those Fanatick Times; or young Men, who had been educated in the same Company; so that the Court, which used to be the Standard of Propriety and Correctness of Speech, was then, and, I think, hath ever since continued the worst School in England for that Accomplishment; and so will remain, till better Care be taken in the Education of our your Nobility, that they may set out into the World with some Foundation of Literature, in order to qualify them for Patterns of Politeness.

The Consequence of this Defect, upon our Language, may appear from Plays, and other Compositions, written for Entertainment with the Fifty Years past; filled with a Secession of affected Phrases, and new, conceited Words, either borrowed from the current Style of the Court, or from those who, under the Character of Men of Wit and Pleasure, pretended to give the Law.

Many of these Refinements have already been long antiquated, and are now hardly intelligible; which is no wonder, when they were the Product only of Ignorance and Caprice. If it struck the present Taste, it was soon transferred into the Plays and current Scribbles of the Week, and became an Addition to our Language; while the Men of Wit and Learning, instead of early obviating such Corruptions, were too often seduced to imitate and comply with them.

These Gentlemen, although they could not be insensible how much our Language was already overstocked with Monosyllables; yet, to same Time and Pains, introduced that barbarous Custom of abbreviating Words, to fit them to the Measure of their Verses; and this they have frequently done, so very injudiciously, as to form such harsh unharmonious Sounds, that none but a Northern Ear could endure: They have joined the most obdurate Consonants without one intervening Vowel, only to shorten a Syllable: And their Taste in time became so depraved, that what was a first a Poetical Licence, not to be justified, they made their Choice, alledging, that the Words pronounced at length, sounded faint and languid.

This was a Pretence to take up the same Custom in Prose; so that most of the Books we see now a-days, are full of those Manglings and Abbreviations. Instances of this Abuse are innumerable: Where, by leaving out a Vowel to save a Syllable, we form so jarring a Sound, and so difficult to utter, that I have often wondred how it could ever obtain.

Not only the several Towns and Countries of England, have a different way of Pronouncing, but even here in London, they clip their Words after one Manner about the Court, another in the City, and a third in the Suburbs; and in a few Years, it is probable, will all differ from themselves, as Fancy or Fashion shall direct: All which reduced to Writing would entirely confound Orthography.

Yet many People are so fond of this Conceit, that is sometimes a difficult matter to read modern Books and Pamphlets, where the Words are so curtailed, and varied from their original Spelling, that whoever hath been used to plain English, will hardly know them by sight.

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This they call knowing the World, and reading Men and Manners. Thus furnished they come up to Town, reckon all their Errors for Accomplishments, borrow the newest Sett of Phrases, and if they take a Pen into their Hands, all the odd Words they have picked up in a Coffee-House, or a Gaming Ordinary, are produced as Flowers of Style; and the Orthography refined to the utmost.

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Language and tone in swifts work

Gulliver's Travels was unique in its day; it was not written to woo or was an indictment, and it was most popular among those who were indicted — that is, politicians, scientists, philosophers, and Englishmen in general.

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Swift's Satire in Gulliver's Travels