H.L. Mencken (18801956). The American Language. 1921.
has the imprimatur of a noble lord.43 Another vigorous newcomer is sox for socks. The White Sox are known to all Americans; the White Socks would seem strange. The new plural has got into the Congressional Record.44
6. The Treatment of Loan-Words
In the treatment of loan-words English spelling is very much more conservative than American. This conservatism, in fact, is so marked that it is frequently denounced by English critics of the national speech usages, and it stood first among the tendencies of modern taste attacked by the Society for Pure English in its original prospectus in 1913a prospectus prepared by Henry Bradley, Dr. Robert Bridges, Sir Walter Raleigh and L. Pearsall Smith, and signed by many important men of letters, including Thomas Hardy, A. J. Balfour, Edmund Gosse, Austin Dobson, Maurice Hewlett, Gilbert Murray, George Saintsbury and the professors of English literature at Oxford and London, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch and W. P. Ker. I quote from this caveat:
Literary taste at the present time, with regard to foreign words recently borrowed from abroad, is on wrong lines, the notions which govern it being scientifically incorrect, tending to impair the national character of our standard speech, and to adapt it to the habits of classical scholars. On account of these alien associations our borrowed terms are now spelt and pronounced, not as English, but as foreign words, instead of being assimilated, as they were in the past, and brought into conformity with the main structure of our speech. And as we more and more rarely assimilate our borrowings, so even words that were once naturalized are being now one by one made un-English, and driven out of the language back into their foreign forms; whence it comes that a paragraph of serious English prose may be sometimes seen as freely sprinkled with italicized French words as a passage of Cicero is often interlarded with Greek. The mere printing of such words in italics is an active force toward degeneration. The Society hopes to discredit this tendency, and it will endeavour to restore to English its old recreative energy; when a choice
Note 43.Vide How to Lengthen Our Ears, by Viscount Harberton; London, 1917, p. 28. [back]