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H.L. Mencken (1880–1956). The American Language. 1921.

Page 22

appears to be the general view. No wonder Brander Matthews speaks of English as a grammarless tongue. America has done and is doing her full share to make it so.” 40 Dr. Burton continues:
The pundit, the pedant, and the professor who are fain to stem the turbid tide of popular vernacular may suffer pain; but they can have little influence on the situation. Even college-bred folk revert to type and use people’s speech—when they are out from under the restraining, corrective monitions of academic haunts—in a way to shock, amuse, or encourage, according to the point of view. Artificial book-speech is struggled for in recitation halls; then forth issue the vital young, and just beyond the door real talk is heard once more: the words and sentences that come hot from the heart, eagerly from emotional reactions, spontaneously representing the feelings rather than a state of mind supposed to be proper. To see a pupil who on trial solemnly declares that two nouns call for a plural verb, hasten out into the happy sunshine and immediately begin to do what the race always has done—including truly idiomatic writers—namely, use a singular verb on all such occasions, is only depressing to those who place the letter before the spirit which is life.
  Mr. Hughes is even more emphatic. There must be an end, he argues, to all weak submission to English precept and example. What is needed is “a new Declaration of Independence.” Then he goes on: 41
Could anyone imagine an English author hesitating to use a word because of his concern as to the ability of American readers to understand it and approve it? The mere suggestion is fantastic. Yet it is the commonest thing imaginable for an American author to wonder if the word that interests him is good “English,” or, as the dictionaries say, “colloquial U. S.” The critics, like awe-inspiring and awe-inspired governesses, take pains to remind their pupils that Americanisms are not nice, and are not written by well-bred little writers. When you stop to think of it, isn’t this monstrously absurd, contemptible, and servilely colonial?… Why should we fail to realize that all our arts must be American to be great? Why should we permit the survival of the curious notion that our language is a mere loan from England, like a copper kettle that we must keep scoured and return without a dent? Have we any less right to develop the language we brought away with us than they have who stayed behind?
  Mr. Hughes, whose own novels are full of racy and effective Americanisms, describes some of his difficulties in England. “A London publisher,” he says, “once wrote of a book of mine that it was bewildering