Date: Tue, 7 Jun 1994 08:27:42 EDT


Subject: Re: Words of the Year

Allan wanted to know why literary types were so fussy. No answer here,

but another example: when I first taught fresh comp at Millikin U, I hd

a young colleague who was a poet by vocation, hung out with James Merrill.

This guy would scream about the corrupt use of language. "I hate my

students," he would say.

Tim Frazer

They are fussy because they are ignorant of anything but their own

intuitive language processes. They believe that a ten-page grammar of

English is adequate for all purposes and claim that such a grammar is

beyond their students--a projection of their own limitations. They cannot

imagine that someone might actually want a degree in English LANGUAGE. They

also suffer from acute classism: they abjure a life that requires them to

instruct the unwashed. Flawed themselves, they spend their time picking out

what they see as flaws in others. When one of them is ranting about the

inability of a student to write "without grammar," ask how it is that

favorite books such as _Huckleberry Finn_ and _The Color Purple_ are great

works of art written in dialect. The ensuing embarrassment is wonderful.

These people cannot tell you that they prefer Johnson's fiction because of

its cultured prose. They've never read Johnson's admission on the futility

of language control. They drive me crazy.

Wayne Glowka

Professor of English

Georgia College

Milledgeville, GA 31061