Jonathan Swift, A Proposal...


Jonathan Swift, A Proposal...


  • Intro

    In 1712, the English language, according to satirist Jonathan Swift, was in chaos. He outlined his complaints in this public letter to Robert Harley, leader of the government, proposing the appointment of experts to advise on English use. The model was to be based on that of the Académie Française, which had been regulating French since 1634. His proposal, like all the others, came to nothing. To this day no official regulation of the English language exists.



    On these pages


    The aim of Swift's proposed academy is given on page 31: 'some Method should be thought of for ascertaining and fixing our Language for ever'. The section before suggests how this might be done, for example by rejecting 'very defective' grammatical forms and restoring some antiquated words 'on account of their Energy and Sound.'


    Jonathan Swift, A Proposal for Correcting, Improving and Ascertaining the English Language, 1712.

    Shelfmark: 117.b.22.

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