From Iceland — Most Awesome Letter

Most Awesome Letter

Published June 22, 2009

Most Awesome Letter

Dear Sir,
I picked up a copy of your newspaper at the domestic airport in Reykjavik. No doubt it is aimed at the young and trendy and that is just fine; I do not fall into that category.
However, that being so or not, I do take issue with you on the form of the English language that you use in the Editorial of Issue 6. I imagine that you did not learn English in England, but I find it difficult to know where you did learn it.  I really do not want Icelanders to believe that this is the correct way to write, or even speak the English language.
To begin with, one never abbreviates words when writing. e.g.. I’m, what’s, isn’t, I’ll, ’em, etc.  All these should be written in full  And as for gonna and didya and ain’t, there are NO SUCH WORDS in the English language and I do not even know what y’all means.  This is simply the written phonetic sounds of the badly spoken English. The expression hatting off does not exist .
Please do your best to enhance life and not muddy it.  You Icelanders guard the purity of your language and are proud to do so and I heartily agree with that sentiment.  Please help me to do the same with the English language to the extent that it is possible.
Yours sincerely,
Hazel Oberst
Greetings Ms. Oberst,
thank you for a fun letter!
I assure you, I’m well aware that abbreviating words, using non-standard words or just plain making words up for fun isn’t proper. I do appreciate your general sentiment of preservation, while I do not adhere to your rigid tenets.
I believe that language is fluid and alive. I believe it should be appreciated and used in a playful, lively manner once one has mastered its basic rules and grammar. You might say our differences are philosophical. Or that I like to have fun with my editorials, and that I allow myself and my writers a certain freedom in regards to how they approach any language so long as they can speak it properly too.
We have much respect for our readers, and plenty of faith in their abilities to discern when we are playing, and when we are not. And since y’all asked, I mostly learned English in my hometown of Ísafjörður (in the Westfjords).

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