Privileging language

In other entries I have mentioned the privileging of Ancient Greek by the excluding of Modern Greek in the term Greek whereby we mean Ancient Greek and have to specify Modern when we are referring to the contemporary language.
Here’s another example, also from Greek. When a final consonant is deleted in, for example, English, such usage is called sloppy, low-class, improper, substandard or non-standard, illogical, etc. But in Greek (Ancient and Modern) the final -n of the definite article accusative case and other forms, the final -n can be and often is deleted but a fancy term, “n moveable” or “moveable n” is slapped on it and it becomes the height of logic and elegance.

Another good one is sandhi. When sandhi is used by a hillbilly or inner city dweller, it is called slurring even though all English speakers do it, e.g. “did you” sounds “didjou” as in “pageant”. Comedic dialogue in movies use stilted speech to identify a character as pedantic by having him pronounce such combinations without sandhi. So when hillbillies speak Sanskrit using the same sandhi they use in English (their execrable, substandard patois pidgin dialect) they suddenly become Brahmins. 

So also with French where a good many (most) final consonants are dropped until they find themselves before a particular set of words where they are then pronounced. Such slovenliness is inexcusable in the English classrooms of America but when it is dubbed “liaison” in French classrooms in America, we are suddenly in the realm of haute cuisine, haute couture, and haut langage.

French also provides us with another great term: disjunctive pronoun. Bring that up at your next haute cuisine dinner party. Proper speakers answer the phone with, “This is she” when normal English would be, “This is her.” Lindley Murray and Bisop Loth based their manuals of English grammar on Latin where the predicate nominative (bring that one up at your next BBQ) would be…. well, nominative i.e. the subject form of the pronoun rather than the oblique form. However, when the French say, “C’est moi,” (thank you Miss Piggy for making all Americans aware of that phrase) which is literally, “It’s me,” the “me” is termed a disjunctive pronoun and you are now speaking haut langage and you had better (you better in colloquial English – sorry, substandard gangster rap English) hie thee to the beauty parlor for your haute couture.

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