Hey, you racist, neoliberal, reactionary … er … lousy speller

To be fair, Austrian writer Robert Menasse is going after The System in his German spelling reform diatribe, not the 2 l8, m8 clan, but it’s still heavy stuff. Apparently–and I find him a bit difficult to follow–the reform was racist because it Germanised both “German” and “force-assimilated” immigrant words, neoliberal because it has created a Darwinist chaos of variants which threatens thought itself (kein Denken ohne Sprache), and reactionary because it ignores natural language development while digging up corpses long dead.

“I want to inhabit my language,” he writes, “but without the corset of racism, neoliberalism and grotesque atavism [?: Rückwärtsgewandtheit]. I speak and write German. Great, expansive, deep German, which the reformers do not understand. And cannot abide.”

I’m not sure that Mr Menasse knows what words like “racist” and “neoliberal” mean–I’m not sure that I do–but I’m not getting into that fight. Instead I wonder whether it might not be time to contemplate a rewrite of a Walter Davis (28/7/1935, Chicago, Yazoo L-1025) classic:

[clunk] Your hair all wrinkled an’ you’re [clunk] full of sweat,
Your [clunk] underskirt is [clunk] ringing wet,
You’re doin’ something wrong, doin’ something wrong,
Been doin’ some-thing, I CAN TELL BY THE WAY YOU SPELL!

It is still devilishly hot outside.

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