(MS 1178)

Charles S. Peirce (C. 1902)

Transcription by Rocío Rodríguez-Tapia (2013)

Spanish translation & annotations

Introduction (1-3)

The learned body of linguists, modern substitutes for the philologists of other days men who set amazing store by Lithuanian, Moeso-Gothic, Irish, Basque, Old Egyptian, and such tongues as they are, collectors of words who would gladly exchange all our knowledge of classical Latin for an equal acquaintance with the plebeian speech of ancient Rome, these linguistic scientists, bear & fear, small love their hybrid language Modern English, and as to "our standard typographical spelling" they teach us that that it is "a misshapen changeling" and "a standing disgrace to our literature". To me, I confess, it hardly seems becoming in a highly scientific person to fly into a passion with the facts that it is his business to study.


Of the two I prefer an entomologist who cultivates fleas in his chambers, rather than one who scolds at them because they store no honey. Public performances are open to public consideration; and I shall take leave to preach to those distinguished gentlemen a modest sermon, finding my text in the very diatribe from which I have just quoted, the work of the eminent linguist, the late Dr. Alexander J. Ellis, some-time President of the London Philological Society, and the author of five burly octavos on Early English Pronunciation.

My text, then brethren, is as follows:

[Sm. type]

"We have a literary language, a written language, having only a remote connection with the spoken tongue".


The lesson suggested by this text may be arranged for our edification under four head: First, that the assertion of the text is true; Secondly, that the only attitude of the scientific linguist which is consonant to this truth is one moderate conservatism; Thirdly, that the same truth, taken in connection with certain hards [sic] facts of practical life, condemns as vain every attempt to bring our orthography into close correspondence with our orthoëpy; and Fourthly, that such correspondence, could it be brought to pass, would prove calamitous.


Transcription by Rocío Rodríguez-Tapia (2013)
Una de las ventajas de los textos en formato electrónico respecto de los textos impresos es que pueden corregirse con gran facilidad mediante la colaboración activa de los lectores que adviertan erratas, errores o simplemente mejores transcripciones. En este sentido agradeceríamos que se enviaran todas las sugerencias y correcciones a

Fecha del documento:27 de mayo 2014
Última actualización: 27 de mayo 2014

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