2017-01-09 - This really should have been revisited, but of course I had little time and never got around to it.
- Also, I don't know what the status of schooling is now, and even at the original time of this writing I hadn't been in touch. Maybe kids are now being taught grammar..
When I was little, learning language meant learning the meanings of lots of words and remembering the different cases in which they were used. I was never taught grammar in school.. nowadays it's not even in the standardized curriculum.
At one point I just gave up because I didn't have the memory to handle the vast libraries of information. I learned to toss out an appropriate-sounding word whenever I needed something to fill a gap in a sentence. The majority of my more expressive language skills relied on a strange form of instinct whereby I'd pick a word which was used similarly in some other circumstance.
Many years later, the more common words have sunk in, and I can whip them out from a sleeve with little notice. Logical writing and sentence structure are both second nature now.
I still don't know English. I never learned it. I don't know grammar.. I can barely fathom what it is.
I don't know what most words mean, yet I can pour over academic philosophic texts without breaking a sweat. I write in my spare time.. constantly. I am quite eloquant at times.. hell, I don't even know how to spell eloquent. =)
Now.. I learned English based on hive influences; common words and phraseology (big word, I probably just misused it too.. most people wouldn't pause on the sentence.. I even managed to get a semicolon in there. I've also abused using brackets) are set up in a common 'lookup table' (a term borrowed from programming)..
Do you have inside jokes with friends? Do you quote The Simpsons at odd times with a certain group? It all makes sense in that circle of people. Widen that and you can see how language completely screws itself over.. unobvious misuse of word formations sets in and becomes commonly used and understood.
Sometimes the 'inside language' is kept within a certain segment of the population, be it ethnic or whatever.. whereby certain lingo becomes commonly understood but generally unfathomable outside said group. Professional and academic languages are one obvious set (legalese, misc. geekspeak, philosophese etc).. but ethnic (or whatever) spins on the major languages also exist (Esperanto curses, various flavours of ebonics etc)
So what you end up with is a population of peasants who don't know what the hell they're talking about.. but they all understand one another. The problem is passing the knowledge on..
I think you can nitpick all you want with pretty much any piece of language.. but the fact that you nitpick seems to indicate you understood the original.. so it's seems pretty pointless for you to nitpick.
However, by nitpicking, you end up creating a sort of private language.. an understanding between you and another as to how you would say that one nitpicked piece of language.
Hmm.. I think I had a point to this blather. How about something like..
Nobody speaks English.. there is no 'English'. There are sections of the language which have generally accepted principles.
Some people learn trade languages, and some aspects of those are standardized.. only unchanging training for new speakers would keep that language somewhat true to the original.
English isn't taught (in Canada).. therefore English cannot and will not stay true to any sort of 'original'.
Holy double plus ungood Batman!