The battle over the way we should speak

On the increasing usage of improper English, Joan Acocella of The New Yorker notes:

English is a melding of the languages of the many different peoples who have lived in Britain; it has also changed through commerce and conquest. English has always been a ragbag, and that encouraged further permissiveness. In the past half century or so, however, this situation has produced a serious quarrel, political as well as linguistic, with two combatant parties: the prescriptivists, who were bent on instructing us in how to write and speak; and the descriptivists, who felt that all we could legitimately do in discussing language was to say what the current practice was.

But the most curious flaw in the descriptivists’ reasoning is their failure to notice that it is now they who are doing the prescribing. By the eighties, the goal of objectivity had been replaced, at least in the universities, by the postmodern view that there is no such thing as objectivity: every statement is subjective, partial, full of biases and secret messages. And so the descriptivists, with what they regarded as their trump card—that they were being accurate—came to look naïve, and the prescriptivists, with their admission that they held a specific point of view, became the realists, the wised-up.

Source: New Yorker

I guess that will make me closer to a descriptivist since I think there’s nothing wrong with Singlish.

How companies are stolen in Russia

Bill Browder, MBA ’89, founder and CEO, talks about Hermitage Capital Management’s investments in Russia and the fall out from the widespread corruption that still pervades Russia’s economy. Recorded Oct. 22, 2009

Hermitage CEO Browder: Don’t Invest in Russia Today

Thought-provoking. If you have an hour to spare, you should watch this video.