The introduction of new words, or of new meanings, in
order to put an end to a linguistic system`s deficiency, or
simply, to extend its vocabular and semantical range, can take
place in the medium of the spoken or in that of the written
language. It is therefore important to know whether one of both
mediums is perhaps the primary one. We should not forget that
some linguists have insisted that the spoken language is of
prime significance and other linguists that the written language
is (particularly in questions of orthography). It seems, however,
that the generalized question whether the spoken or the
written language is of prime significance is itself already inaptly
formulated. Yet what we can be sure about is that at least
the impact of written language has become enormous since the
invention of printing (about five-and-a-half centuries before
the manuscript of this Model was word-processed in a computer).
It is in the written language that important, 'normal' distinctions
in present-day 'natural' languages were once artificially
introduced or reintroduced. And when it is said that 'new usage
can supplant the old with comparative ease' and that 'it is
encouraging that there is one barrier which can be scaled with
relative ease', this probably applies in the first place to the
medium of the written language, if only because one can take
more time when writing than when speaking. Later on the changes
in, and additions to, the written language are bound to produce
parallel new words and meanings in the spoken language, at least
among those people between whom the exchange of thoughts and
feelings takes place.
Even if in 'the partnership of language and (nonlinguistic)
cultural norms, language is by nature the autocratic factor'
--as has been remarked-- it does not follow that it is not
people (or male and female human beings) who maintain and create
the kind of language we are dealing with here. Supplanting
particular linguistic conventions with a new usage may be a
question of the writer`s or speaker`s ideology, but rejecting or
ignoring such usage is not less a question of ideology.
Conventions, even 'traditional' ones, are prerequisite for language,
but there are other conventions, or decrees, which are
prerequisite for the viability and expressivity of a new
attitude, of new normative convictions.
Let no-one tremble with the thought of a limited number of
his, of his or her, nay, of `er, linguistic
conventions or decrees being discredited. It is not the right attitude
when the linguistic rules concerned did serve, do serve or will
continue to serve irrelevantist or other objectionable purposes.
Besides, it does not help, for the old man whose tongue is
traditional language must needs pass away eventually anyhow.
This is as certain as the fate of needs .