Social Status and Grammar

One thing that I thought was really interesting in yesterday’s class discussion was how much social status affected grammar of today. I thought it was really interesting how, in the days before the printing press, reading and books were specifically for the rich. Before the printing press was invented, books were written by hand and were obviously pricier.

Once the printing press was invented, however, books became much more available to people. Around that time, literacy education became much easier to access by people of the lower class so reading overall became much more accessible. This, unfortunately, did not bode well for people in power.

To combat this new struggle for power, the upper class decided to update the rules, and thus came the creation of grammar.

The main thing that intrigued me in this was the fact that the creation of grammar was due to a struggle for power. There was no legitimate need for grammar, but the people in power decided that to keep their status, they needed to create a whole new realm of thinking in the English language.

Rhetoric factors into play here because of the fact that the rich needed to convince the poor that they were better than them by making up new rules of language, and that just blows my mind. These people were so insecure in their power that they needed to make new rules up to keep their power.


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