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

Page 5


2. The Academic Attitude
  This neglect of the vulgate by those professionally trained to investigate it, and its disdainful dismissal when it is considered at all, are among the strangest phenomena of American scholarship. In all other countries the everyday speech of the common people, and even the grotesque dialects of remote yokels, have the constant attention of philologists, and the laws of their growth and variation are elaborately studied. In France, to name but one agency, there is the Société des Parlers de France, with its diligent inquiries into changing forms; moreover, the Académie itself is endlessly concerned with the subject, and is at great pains to observe and rate every fluctuation in popular usage. 4 There is, besides, a constant outpouring of books by private investigators, of which “Le Langage Populaire,” by Henri Banche, is a good example. 5 In Germany, amid many other such works, there are the admirable grammars of the spoken speech by Dr. Otto Bremer. In Sweden there are several journals devoted to the study of the vulgate, and the government has granted a subvention of 7500 kronen a year to an organization of scholars called the Undersökningen av Svenska Folkmål, formed to investigate it systematically. 6 In Norway there is a widespread movement to overthrow the official Dano-Norwegian, and substitute a national language based upon the speech of the peasants. 7 In