Cromwell is a play by Victor Hugo that was published in 1827. Its distinctive feature is that it is better known for its preface than for the play itself.
The famous preface was the founding manifesto of romantic drama. Besides, the play was never performed in its entire original version. Indeed, the number of characters (over 60) and costumes, of scenes (74) and verses (6920) made this play unperformable!
In the preface, Victor Hugo reminds us that languages are constantly changing:
“[…] the French tongue is not fixed and never will be. A language does not become fixed. The human intellect is always on the march, or, if you prefer, in movement, and languages with it.”
Nothing is ever fixed indeed. Languages are always changing. Nowadays in France, a great many people are worried about the influence of the English language on French. Yet, history has seen times where it was the other way round. Times change, people travel and leave traces of their culture, as well as of their mindset, their way of thinking and expressing themselves.
The evolution of languages is the inevitable mark of changes and shifts, of the natural movement of mankind. That’s what this quote from Victor Hugo suggests.
And you? What do you think of this quotation about languages being bound to change? Share your thoughts in the comment section below 🙂