1908: Jargon was goin’ to be the standard language
One of the first books of its kind — a motorist’s travelogue of the American Far West.
The writing style is engaging and strives to quote regular folks as they really spoke with the author.
Photo from between pages 230 & 231
This is Clifton Johnson’s 1908 book, Highways and byways of the Pacific coast (New York: MacMillan). Read it for free at that link!
On page 240: an elderly male settler of 1853, found splitting rails by the roadside apparently in the Canyonville area of SW Oregon, recalls in a conversation:
We talked a jargon that was got up for the Indians; and that was taught in the schools. I used to could speak that jargon better than I could English and we had an i-dea [sic] that was goin’ to be the standard language here in Oregon.
Well my friends, it could still happen…!
…if you get a major secessionist movement underway, preferably with a strong ideology.
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(Continuing with David Marjanović’s thought)
…combined with massive immigration of non-anglophones in a context where the jargon is not only (inter alia) the sole language of education but also the sole common language between anglophone locals and non-anglophone newcomers, and a generation or two later the jargon will have become the dominant vernacular of the new country.
I could see this happening if 1-There is a strong local pro-jargon movement of some kind, willing to invest in such things as the large-scale creation and distribution of written material in the jargon (Hmm. In Roman script or shorthand? Or some other writing system -Canadian Syllabics perhaps?), especially in (elementary) educational settings, and 2-Some major event (The aftermath of the next major earthquake in the Northwest? Of a future American civil war? Of a global economic crash? Of some limited nuclear war? Of some or all of the above?) eliminates the built-in institutional advantage the language of the locals (English, in this instance) enjoys over immigrants’ languages.
I can’t help but note that while there is only one known instance of large-scale language revival (Israeli Hebrew), reviving a pidgin language (not just the jargon!) should prove much easier, since pidgins are by their nature easily learnt languages.
It could make for an interesting setting for a science-fiction story/set of stories, come to think of it.
P.S. Of course, I think French would be much, MUCH more appropriate as the sole official language of this new country, for reasons of historical tradition and continuity, but some individuals (I cannot imagine who, mark you!) might accuse me of lacking objectivity 🙂
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