Saturday, 22 December 2012

Shrinking English

In this incredibly fast paced world that we live in, everything is happening all at once, and we have to constantly speed up to keep up, or get left behind.

Ludicrously fast internet, multi-tasking smart phones and tablets, and AI such as Siri all help us to spend as little time as possible on any given task so we can move onto the next one.

With SMS messaging, along came the invention of a shortened, abbreviated English, and the invention of hundreds of words such as "lol" and "ily".

English has never really been the same since, in fact, for a long time; English has been shrinking.

Over the last few hundred years, words and phrases in English have become shorter and shorter to accommodate for our changing culture.

It's almost disturbing to look at how things have changed. Common, everyday words like perambulator and omnibus have been more than halved in length, to become pram and bus, respectively.

And some of those are excusable, but some examples are not. In our speech, we have become lazy and complacent, and words become mixed together and lose all recognition.

For example: when did "'cha doin'?" become a valid replacement for "What are you doing?" In that phrase alone, two syllables and two vowel sounds have been dropped.

And the same thing applies in how much we say. If you lived in a time where there were no cars and people went by horse and carriage; if someone did something you didn't appreciate, you had quite a while to shout profanities before they had driven past. And when people insulted each other, they really let loose. All you have to do is read a play by Shakespeare to see someone use about thirty adjectives to describe someone.

But nowadays, cars are so fast and so loud; that our once elegant and sophisticated way of insulting each other, has been reduced to nothing more than a hand gesture.

I understand that things change and culture changes, but there are so many beautiful words out there that have all but been forgotten, and been replaced by the mass-produced, over usage of the words "like" and "but".

I think the newer generations need to be reminded that there are other ways to say what you mean other than using the same simple words over and over.

And I think they need to be taught that language should not be first and foremost about communicating information and ideas. Any idiot with a pen and paper can do that. Language should be first and foremost about communicating emotion.

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