- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Saxon roots

“English is the de facto lingua franca of the world. But its survival is threatened in its mightiest stronghold, the United States. …

“It is more pressing than ever that we establish English as the official language of the United States. …

“English is marvelously versatile, practical, flexible, direct and free of the structural tics that hobble other tongues. The only snake in the English garden is its spelling, which like some grand museum of archaic phonology has faithfully preserved extinct pronunciations.

“From the shotgun wedding of England with the French Normans in 1066, English became a vocabulary of Latin-derived words amalgamated with rich Saxon and Celtic roots. …

“The Normans were ambitious conquerors, great in number and determined to rule and dispossess the Anglo-Saxons. But nearly 1,000 years later, not only is the structure of English still Germanic, but the core vocabulary is derived from the Anglo-Saxons.

“J.R.R. Tolkien brilliantly demonstrated in his great trilogy, ‘The Lord of The Rings,’ that exceptional literature can still be written using, on average, less than one Latin-derived word per page.”

Marian Kester Coombs, writing on “High Noon for the English Language?” Saturday at www.vdare.com

Divorce culture

“We may have come a long way since women were associated too narrowly with nurture; but we seem to have reached the opposite pole. Women now take the lead, by far, in dissolving families for reasons that usually are less than clear-cut. …

“Media sentimentality about ‘love,’ to which women may be more sensitive, may indeed have created expectations that few real-life marriages can meet. …

“[T]he part of the society in which the divorce culture is strongest is also the part that most tends to deny that there’s a need to fight and to blame the country itself for the war instead of the cold-blooded killers who are attacking it. … Is the divorce culture compatible with patriotism? If people, in childhood, experience having a decent father move to a different apartment, are they as likely to identify with the larger society when they grow up?”

P. David Hornik, writing on “Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dogs’ Tails,” Monday in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

Not dumbed down

“After 11 years, 264 episodes and 31 Emmys, ‘Frasier’ had its finale, although it will live forever in re-run heaven. It may not have been the best sit-com, but it was probably the most award-winning. For five of its 11 years, it won the Emmy for best comedy.

“‘Frasier’ was one of the relatively few TV shows that was not dumbed down. Its main characters, the two neurotic psychiatrists Frasier and his brother Niles, were highbrows. Although the show made fun of their occasional snobbery and pomposity, they remained likeable all the same. The show also played them off against more down-to-earth folks who, remarkably, live with them. Their blue-collar father is an ex-cop with a bum leg. … Then there is the cockney housekeeper Daphne, with whom the high-strung Niles, again remarkably, falls in love. …

“By the end of the run, attention kept focusing on the characters’ sex lives, which was a shame. On the whole, the series resisted the traits of the lowest common denominator sitcoms: yelling, innuendo, and meanness.”

Gene Edward Veith, writing on “Smart comedy,” in the next Saturday’s issue of World

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