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August 24, 1984

Evolution of Language-Reply

Author Affiliations

Vanderbilt University Nashville, Tenn

JAMA. 1984;252(8):1009. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350080015007

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In Reply.—  We appreciate the thoughtful comments of Dr Strange and agree with most of the points he makes. In the evolution of language, popular usage always seems to go its own way, however much grammarians and lexicographers try to rein it in. The impact of Africa on the English language certainly should not be underestimated. It occurs not only through the intermediary of Black English in North America but also directly from indigenous languages in places like Monrovia, Lagos, and Nairobi.Although it is possible to argue, as Dr Strange does, that English did not originate in England, we have to stand by our guns on this point. When the Jutes, Angles, and Saxons arrived in Britain, the language they spoke was as different from 20th-century English as Latin is from 20th-century French. It was long after their arrival that they began to conceive of themselves as the "Englisc"