Nancy Gish - Women's Studies wrote:
> I gather you are agreeing with me. Such rules do "make possible"
> exclusions of those who do not know them; but they have other
> reasons for being created and sustained. Is that your point?
Yes, I'm agreeing with you. I would not put the emphasis on the
exclusion of the "ignorant" but on the inclusion of the "correct" --
_if_ we are to see a class origin of spelling and "correct" grammar we
should see it as a way for newly educated and/or moderately wealthy
elements to signify to themselves (more than to others) their "arrival."
It would really be a sort of egalitarian rather than "elitist" gesture:
A correct set of grammatical rules (or of rules of etiquette) is
something _anyone_ can, in principle, live up to. (Cf. the roman
proverb, pecunia non olet.) Over 50 years ago I browsed through one of
the very earliest "etiquette" books (early 16th c. I think), and while I
can't remember any specific rule, I can recreate the flavor of them as I
remember it: Don't blow your nose on the tablecloth or spit in the punch
bowl. A landed aristocracy (prior to being turned into a band of
courtiers) needs no evidence of its status. I think C.S. Lewis notes
someplace that Elizabethan court manners were competitive, while the
manners introduced by Addison and Steele were merely of the "pass/fail"
sort. (He adds that an Elizabethan courtier would seem like an
extravagantly boastful buffoon today -- he had better phrasing than mine
These are scattered observations, not careful generalization. Have you
ever read a letter from J.S. Bach to a nobleman? Such grovelling would
be intolerable today. I think I have somewhere about the house a text
which quotes a letter from Bach to Frederic of Prussia, but I can't
remember what book it is.
P.S. I notice from the jacket of your Eliot book that you went to
Western Michigan. That's where I got my B.A. in 1950.