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Video Transcript Below:
Hi guys, it’s Robby here from EnglishHarmony.com and welcome back to my video blog!
In today’s video we’re going to discuss the correctness of the English language.
And the fact of the matter is that there’s so many things that we say in our English conversations that would be considered as incorrect if we went by the textbook English grammar rules. And if you paid particular attention to the last sentence – I said something incorrectly!
I said “there’s so many things” whereas in reality I should have said “there are so many things” because the noun “things” obviously is in plural in this case so the verb “to be” should have been conjugated to reflect that, I should have said “there are so many things”.
And this is just one of those examples where something that’s incorrect, it has been accepted in the general public and everyone speaks like that and there’s nothing wrong with it.
So it begs the question and as a matter of fact this particular phrase “it begs the question – to beg a question” has also been criticized as being incorrect English, right? In reality we should say “it raises a question”. But this phrase “it begs a question” is also used by everyone. And I would say that it actually makes it correct.
I Believe Correctness is Determined by the People Who Speak English!
Just think about it, if 90% of the entire English speaking population uses a particular phrase or a particular means of expression, doesn’t that make it correct? Because at the end of the day what is the English language?
I would define the English language as means of communication used by a specific group of people, right? And this particular group of people is enormous. It spans the entire world. It’s millions upon millions of people so the English language belongs to the people. It’s the people who use the language!
And if the people decide somehow – well, obviously there’s no single institution that would make that decision. There hasn’t been an election to decide whether the phrase “it begs the question” is correct or not but you get the drift, right? If the people just use it and nobody has any issues with it, why not make it acceptable?
Yes, if we dig deep into the origins of the saying it might not make sense because that’s what it is, right? “To beg the question” doesn’t kind of make any logical sense. And the way we use it we actually mean to say it raises the question. But just because everyone says it that way, uses that way I think that changes it, you know and make it correct because everyone knows what that phrase means.
It’s not as if you’d walk up to someone on the street and tell them “it begs a question” and they’d be like – “why are you saying that? It makes no sense!” Nobody would say that. Everyone would understand what you’re saying therefore I think it’s correct.
And as a matter of fact, there’s a whole array of sayings that I’ve been using my whole life simply because I’ve been mimicking other native English speakers. I heard them used left, right and center and then at some stage down the line I found out that they’re actually incorrect.
I’ve Been Mimicking Native Speakers and Now It Turns Out Some of It is Wrong?!
For instance the typical saying “near miss”, right? If an accident almost occurred you say “it’s a near miss”. If you think about it – it doesn’t make sense because if the accident didn’t happen then it’s not a near miss, it’s a near hit because the hit would be the accident, right? And then if it didn’t happen by an inch then it’s a near hit. A near miss would be the actual accident happening, right? But people just say the phrase “near miss” to describe a near hit and everyone uses it that way and that’s what makes it proper, right? That’s what makes it correct at least in my book!
And let me give you some more examples. For example “fit as a fiddle”, right? I always knew that people say it and I’ve said it myself, “fit as a fiddle” – to describe a person who is very fit.
And now that I did some research online before recording this video I just looked up some phrases that people have been using wrong, right? That are incorrect going by the standard, rigid English grammar and linguistic rules I would imagine, right? Turns out that “fit as a fiddle” is wrong – “in good health” is what we should be saying, right?
So there you go, there’s so many expressions that I thought were… I didn’t even think about it – I just knew what way people use them and I’ve been using them myself, right? And then turns out they’re wrong!
No – They’re Not Wrong! That’s Real Life English!
But this is the very argument, my friends. I don’t think they’re wrong just because some higher authority – I even don’t know who they are, some academicians sitting in high seats, top universities in America and in England, all of a sudden they decide what’s wrong and what’s not wrong.
Well, I suppose to a certain degree we have to oblige by those rules because if there was no authority determining what’s wrong and what’s right and what type of English be taught in schools then the standard would degrade very rapidly. It would deteriorate in no time and then all of a sudden in a couple of decades down the line maybe each and every single region would start speaking completely differently if people were allowed to speak the way they want and wouldn’t be teaching their young proper English rules, that would probably – what would start happening.
So I suppose we need some unified standards and all that. But what I’m saying is these standards are maybe a little bit too rigid. Especially those academicians are very unwilling to change their attitudes I would imagine because they’re sticking to the rules I would imagine and that’s what makes them say these things that people are saying this or that particular thing incorrectly while at the same time everyone knows that for decades it’s been accepted as normal part of English, right?
So that’s just my 5 cents guys. Tell me what you think about it in the comments below and chat to you soon, my friends. Thanks for watching this video! Don’t forget to like it and don’t forget to subscribe to my channel if you haven’t already done so and see you around!
P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English!
P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!