Arts &
Arts Culture Analysis
Vol. 23, No. 2, 2024
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Robert J. Lewis
Senior Editor
Jason McDonald
Contributing Editors
Louis René Beres
Nick Catalano
David Solway
Chris Barry
Don Dewey
Howard Richler
Jordan Adler
Andrew Hlavacek
Daniel Charchuk
Music Editors Serge Gamache
Diane Gordon
Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Jerry Prindle
Chantal Levesque Denis Beaumont
Emanuel Pordes

Past Contributors
Noam Chomsky
Mark Kingwell
Naomi Klein
Arundhati Roy
Evelyn Lau
Stephen Lewis
Robert Fisk
Margaret Somerville
Mona Eltahawy
Michael Moore
Julius Grey
Irshad Manji
Richard Rodriguez
Navi Pillay
Ernesto Zedillo
Pico Iyer
Edward Said
Jean Baudrillard
Bill Moyers
Barbara Ehrenreich
Leon Wieseltier
Nayan Chanda
Charles Lewis
John Lavery
Tariq Ali
Michael Albert
Rochelle Gurstein
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

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Nick Catalano is a TV writer/producer and Professor of Literature and Music at Pace University. He reviews books and music for several journals and is the author of Clifford Brown: The Life and Art of the Legendary Jazz Trumpeter, New York Nights: Performing, Producing and Writing in Gotham , A New Yorker at Sea,, Tales of a Hamptons Sailor and his most recent book, Scribble from the Apple. For Nick's reviews, visit his website:


We have all become emailers and texters and as such have been forced to adopt a new ersatz language where “you” becomes “u,” “are” becomes “r” for starters and whatever message delivered becomes assignated with an emoji. This new palaver has become adopted by game players and professionals, and has invaded traditional writing sanctuaries such as resumes, letters and advertisements. Added to these verbal revolutions is the annoying continuance of a.c.r.o.n.y.m.s which is more prevalent than ever.

The disappearance of traditional grammatical structures and the advent of cybernetics has come overnight. The development of traditional languages, and the artistry achieved under their aegis has been well recorded. Unfortunately, the growth of some of these tongues from basic syntax to legendary poetry is rarely appreciated. In order to get a brief sense of language development, an historical examination is needed. English is a good example.

The earliest examples of languages spoken in the U.K. include examples of nordic/Viking tongues, Anglo-Saxon or “old English” and the Latin brought there by invasions as early as the Caesars. The opening old English lines in Beowulf bear almost no modern words - - he wæf frofre geba[d] weox under wolcnum wearð myndum þah, oð - contains only “he” and “under.” The early Latin speakers, secular Romans and Christian missionaries in the 4th and 5th centuries A.D. initiated the earliest notable developments in the richness of the language. Venerable Bede gained European attention in the 8th century with his Ecclesiastica - -a history of the U.K. Peoples. But Anglo-Saxon continued most significantly with Beowulf published in 1032 even though many think that it had been written as early as the 9th century.

Also in the 11th century new language energy arrived with the Norman invasion in 1066. After this date almost all feudal lords, successful business leaders, wealthy patrons and richly educated peoples spoke French and all the “tion” nouns that we have still remain today. Important literature was written in French (Thomas Malory’s Morte d’Arthur) and French was the prestigious tongue in England for the next 400 years.

But then came Geoffrey Chaucer in the 15th century who chose to write in Middle English which was the descendent of the Old English street language. The enormous popularity of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales actually made 15th century spoken Middle English a kind of a fad. “Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende” are the opening lines of the poem with some words that we use at present.

This new English spread everywhere and by 1485 with the ascendancy of the renaissance king Henry IV all the writers were using it and poets were incorporating classical forms from Ancient Greek to contemporary French in their writing. There was new communication developed from all the languages we spoke of. Dramatists, essayists and lyric poets initiated syntactical variations ( . . . Be it ever so humble), precise verbal modifiers (a high-quality meal) and revolutionary incorporation of foreign phrases (deja vu) in drama dialogue. Shakespeare’s characters in Love’s Labour’s Lost speak French for entire scenes. And during the 16th century huge numbers of continental translators came to England bringing the rich tradition of European masterpieces with novel syntaxes, modifications and expressions.

In short, in no period of English writing is their more silk-stocking expressionism than in the onset of the enlightenment in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. The depth of richness is often very confusing to modern students who often reject Shakespearean English because the language is highly ornamented. In its stead is cybernetic English, which, as we have seen, has virtually abandoned advanced renaissance English expressionism which took 1500 years to evolve.

The hundreds of legendary Shakespearian quotes we extract from the immortal Bard would not be available to us if the language he used wasn’t so rich. He is at once indebted to it no less than he has enriched it. Actually, as I’ve taken the time in my Shakespeare classes to explain, the great poet was lucky. He had the richest English language in history to work with, an extraordinary interest in drama from Queen Elizabeth and the London citizenry backed up by the aesthetic standards of the high renaissance. Fifteen sixty four was a great year for a talented writer to be born.

One of the most important features of English and other established languages is the connotation(s) of words. The associations and connotations are the products of the history of the word and the imaginative, emotional psyches of the readers. However, when you start talking about human imagination and various emotional interactions between words and ideas, in our pressent age trouble immediately looms because the digital meanings in cybernetics are derived solely from logic and history. There is not yet a mechanism in computer technology that can factor imagination and emotion into the ultimate meanings of writing.

No one has ever been able to control language and it evolution. Since the birth of language it has always been stubbornly resistant even to the great lexicogrophers and to the famous dictionary etymologists. The Oxford English Dictionary and all of its competitors must constantly put forth new editions containing new words and expressions which have crept into the language despite objections of formalists. And creative writers are always ready to create neologisms replacing vocabulary that they feel has become stale.

Although nobody can predict the changes that come about daily in the accelerated world of “computerese,” it may be possible for this digital dominance to render some kind of symbolism that will facilitate creative writing. At this juncture it becomes impossible to predict what this future cybernetic language will look like in, say, a hundred years. But the etymological history of English that we have scanned has shown that the enlightenment of the English language 500 years ago was a principal factor in the artistic achievement of the culture’s greatest writer. Actually, because of this, any graduate study of English literature reveals that the greatest concentration of genius writers in England occurred during Shakespeare’s time. Ben Jonson, Edmund Spencer, Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Kyd and their many contemporaries make this period reflect the highest achievements in the whole history of English literature before or since. Had Shakespeare never lived, this Elizabethan period contains writing geniuses that outpace any other period. And the richness of the language is a main reason.



Excellent essay.

Erudite as ever! Thanks for a fascinating essay on the evolution of English! A writer, too, I love how professor Catalano has reassured us that AI will never have imagination or emotion!


By Nick Catalano:

Paddy Cheyefsky
George Lucas - An Appreciation
Sarah Vaughan: The Divine One
Hell on the High Seas
A Producer Remembers
World War I: Armistice and Artists
The Masters: Standup Comedy pt. II
On Standup Comedy pt. I
My Times with Benny Goodman
Higher Education and the Future of Democracy
Faith, Emotion and Superstition versus Reason, Logic and Science
Thinking: A Lost Art
Alternative Approaches to Learning
Aesthetic History and Chronicled Fact
Terror in China: Cultural Erasure and Computer Genocide
The Roller Coaster of Democracy
And Justice for All
Costly Failures in American Higher Education
Trump and the Dumbing Down of the American Presidency
Language as the Enemy of Truth
Opportunity in Quarantine
French Music: Impressionism & Beyond
D-Day at Normandy: A Recollection Pt. II
D-Day at Normandy: A Recollection Pt. I
Kenneth Branagh & Shakespeare
Remembering Maynard Ferguson
Reviewers & Reviewing
The Vagaries of Democracy
Racism Debunked
The Truth Writer
#Me Too Cognizance in Ancient Greece
Above the Drowning Sea
A New York Singing Salon
Rockers Retreading
Polish Jewry-Importance of Historical Museums
Sexual Relativity and Gender Revolution
Inquiry into Constitutional Originalism
Aristotle: Film Critic
The Maw of Deregulated Capitalism
Demagogues: The Rhetoric of Barbarism
The Guns of August
Miles Ahead and Born to Be Blue
Manon Lescaut @The Met
An American in Paris
What We Don't Know about Eastern Culture
Black Earth (book review)
Cuban Jazz
HD Opera - Game Changer
Film Treatment of Stolen Art
Stains and Blemishes in Democracy
Intersteller (film review)
Shakespeare, Shelley & Woody Allen
Mystery and Human Sacrifice at the Parthenon
Carol Fredette (Jazz)
Amsterdam (book review)
Vermeer Nation
The Case for Da Vinci's Demons


Comedy Podcast with Jess Salomon and Eman El-Husseini
Bahamas Relief Fund
Film Ratings at Arts & Opinion - Montreal
fashion,brenda by Liz Hodson
Festival Nouveau Cinema de Montreal(514) 844-2172
Montreal Guitar Show July 2-4th (Sylvain Luc etc.). border=
Photo by David Lieber:
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