Wednesday, September 24, 2008

1066 and Poetry

This week, Garrison Keillor has highlighted the importance of the Norman Conquest of 1066 in the English language.

Now, for those of you who did not take the History of England class with me, 1066 is the year William the Conqueror did just that to England.

And if you read this week's entries of The Writer's Almanac, you can find out how that helped make English one of the hardest languages to learn.

The next time you lament the fact that someone doesn't speak English, think about to, two and too. Or, better yet, its and it's. It takes a brave person to learn English.

And to that end, here is a poem that sets my teeth on edge. Enjoy!

Windows is Shutting Down

Windows is shutting down, and grammar are
On their last leg. So what am we to do?
A letter of complaint go just so far,
Proving the only one in step are you.

Better, perhaps, to simply let it goes.
A sentence have to be screwed pretty bad
Before they gets to where you doesnt knows
The meaning what it must be meant to had.

The meteor have hit. Extinction spread,
But evolution do not stop for that.
A mutant languages rise from the dead
And all them rules is suddenly old hat.

Too bad for we, us what has had so long
The best seat from the only game in town.
But there it am, and whom can say its wrong?
Those are the break. Windows is shutting down.

by Clive James
from Opal Sunset: Selected poems, 1958–2008
© W.W. Norton & Company, 2008

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