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Grammar o th'American Lingo

W. J. Sidis

ca. 1940

[MS, fragment, 1p, presumedly unpublished, found in Helena Sidis's files, 1977.]


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        This is the first time a grammar o th'American lingo's been attempted in a way as would put American on an equal basis with regular recognized lingoes. People doubt whether American talk would make a practical language all by itself, and generally American talk seems to be regarded as just bad or careless English. But we think American ainjus bad English, itís a real regular language of its own, with own grammar an everythin. Whatís the usa tryinta force literary English grammar down our throats, anyhow? The idea seems to be: first, that America talks English; next, that Americans dont really talk English, an that itís up to grammarians and thíother intellectuals to make em talk English when they dont. Those two statements, on the face of it, cant go togetheróone of em must be wrong, an we think it's the first one that aint so.

        First place, literary English is a kinda lingo what aint never been spoke an never could be. It comes from the artificial language called, the "King's English" used for proclamations in England in the middle ages, but it was somethin what nobody ever really talked; an meanwhile the British dialects grew up without payin no attention to what the King proclaimed. The literary lingo that resulted has been, ever since, the snooty lingo, talked by intellectual snobs who wanna show theyre different from common ordinary people. So English, the way they hand it out in schools, is somethin what aint never been talked anyhow, but that the intellectuals wanna make us talk; an itís plenty different from whatís relly spoken in either England or America.

        Asfer spoken talk, England an America have their own separate lingoes, which we can call British an American, neither one bein much like literary English. Acourse, people learnin to write an read the literary lingo musta brought over some of it into their regular talk; same way, literary English aint really quite the same in England to what it is in America, because the peopleís talk affected it different in each country, so that thereís really two dialects o literary English, a British one an an American one.

       ĎTaint hard tasee that the talk of England is different from whatcha find in America. The trouble Englishmen have in gettin understood in America, or Americans in England, should oughta prove that plenty. An we all know that neither country can make out the otherís jokesónot cause either nationís dumb, but cause they talk different languages. Difference in vocabulary is well known; but itís the grammar, that is, the way the words get put together, that makes the biggest difference between English, British, an American.

      The real grammar aint the batcha rules what the intellectuals have made up for a standard to force us to, but the way Americans really talk. And, though the words in Americanís mostly English, and some from other...


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