By: Theresa Bareither
If you consider spoken English proficiency to fall along a continuum with no English at one end and “perfect” English at the opposite end, you probably fall somewhere in between the halfway mark and the “perfect” end. The reason we can say that there is no such thing as perfect English is that even the experts don’t always agree about usage and pronunciation. Unlike other languages, English has no governing authority that allows or denies how words are spelled, used, and pronounced. An English dictionary is not a rulebook, but a suggested guideline. It is based on the pronunciation, spelling, and usage of most educated speakers.
English is in a constant state of change. For example, “week end” was spelled as two separate words when my mother was a schoolgirl. By the time I was in school, the preferred spelling was “week-end.” Somewhere along the line, the preference changed to “weekend,” and nobody sent me the memo! So, English is a growing, developing language. As we import more words from other languages, and from increasing technology, we will continue to see changes and variations. Don’t be discouraged if you sometimes feel like me, that you didn’t get the memo!
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