Pitman Bullokar Two Champions and Two Eras Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1226 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Communication - Language

Pitman Bullokar

Two Champions and Two Eras of Attempts at English Reform: A Comparison of William Bullokar and Sir Isaac Pitman

The English language is often referred to as a "bastard" language, as it has no pretensions to the type of "purity" supposedly inherent to other more ancient languages. Rooted as it is in Germanic grammar with many Greek and Latinate word forms and vocabulary enhancements, however, it is understandable that often proves difficult to master (especially by non-native speakers) for its complexities, rule-breaking tendencies, and the staggering amount of vocabulary and randomly complex declensions it contains. Due to the diverse background of the development of the English language, there appear to be several systems at work at once in the language, and though most native speakers develop a feel for this language through their personal development, this can be difficult even for them.

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The complexities and inconsistencies of the English language have been more than the source of simple frustration in the minds and mouths of English learners, however; they have also been the focus of concerted and conscious efforts of correction and alteration at different points in time, with varying degrees of success. Shortly before the time of Shakespeare, the still-new printing press was already starting to churn out the written word in unheard of quantities, leading to one of the first eras of major reform efforts aiming at the standardization and rationalization of English spelling and grammar. In the nineteenth century, education reform movements -- which themselves were part of overall social movements -- helped to usher in a second era of serious and concentrated efforts to simplify and codify the English language. Two champions of reform, their purposes, techniques, and circumstances, are examined below.

Term Paper on Pitman Bullokar Two Champions and Two Eras Assignment

William Bullokar was born sometime around 1520 (the exact year, let alone date, is unknown), and was a teacher in London by the 1550s (Dons 7). After a somewhat adventurous and highly edifying middle-age, Bullokar returned to London as both a teacher and a printer, and he began publishing his works that amounted a complete overhaul of the English language: an alphabet with new letters and diacritical marks, each of which was supposed to correspond to only one sound, three significant pamphlets regarding grammar and a set of standardizations for it, and even a dictionary that was extensive yet incomplete upon Bullokar's death in 1590 (Dons 7; Wolfe 40-1; Bullokar). Through all of this, Bullokar's primary goal seems most clearly to have been a desire for simplicity, as an aid to both teachers and learners and with a devotion to logical principles.

Sir Isaac Pitman also pushed for the simplification -- in some senses -- and standardization of English, though his purposes and approach were both somewhat different. Pitman was above all a scientist in his approach, and though a teacher like Bullokar before him he was not primarily concerned with making English understandable and regular, but rather by making it more correct -- which naturally leads to (or stems from, depending on one's perspective) standardization and eventually more understandable rules (Baker; B. Pitman 5-6). Pitman also developed his own system of symbols based on the phonetics of English as Pitman himself spoke it (the "proper" way, of course), and his short-hand became one of the most widely used shorthand systems ever devised (S. Pitman; baker 172-4). Though this approach may seem similar to Bullokar's it was different in motive and effect.

Bullokar, it is important to note, did not try to develop a phonetic alphabet -- he tried to ensure that each letter in his alphabet could only be pronounced one way (alterable only by the presence of a diacritical mark), but he did… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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