Folium: 10 Things That Will Ruin the English Language via io9
Mom was strict about the use of language. She constantly corrected us whenever what she considered misuse of the language crept into the vernacular. She hated slang.
I had a good friend in high school in the 1950’s. He was a cool cat. One summer afternoon he came to the farm to get me to go with him, but I couldn’t go, so he left, copping a breeze with his rod and really cooking. He was cruising for a brusin’. Luckily he didn’t cream it all.
While my mother always encouraged us to “Speak English”, The English language that she knew all too well has changed and will continue to evolve. Linguists write about the massive changes from the original Germanic, Norman, Latin and Saxon. It is doubtful that if someone were to speak English as it was spoken in 800 AD, anyone listening would understand much at all.
“I am of this opinion that our own tung shold be written cleane and pure, unmixt and unmangled with borowing of other tunges, wherein if we not heed by tiim [by time], ever borowing and never payeng, she shall be fain to keep her house as bankrupt.” – Sir John Cheke, Provost of King’s College, Cambridge 1548CE
In my seven decades I have seen an incredible change in the language. It’s easy to see the changes in slang over the years as well as the use of colloquialisms which have become less regional and more appropriate for general use. We as a population travel a great deal more than people did fifty years ago. In doing so we take with us the verbal habits of a variety of locales. When we lived in North Carolina, a friend offered to “carry y’alls kids” to a church meeting. In Pittsburgh, a neighbor asked about “where you’ns were from?”.
Transience brings change. Media exposure brings change. Languages evolve because of influences that are themselves evolving. I was 25 years old before I ever heard the words taco, burrito, or gumbo. I never knew the joy of grits until I moved to the Carolinas. These words of course had been assimilated by the various locales and I took them to my next location.
Twenty years ago no one would talk about facetiming or skyping with someone. No one would google anything. The word terabyte would be met with a blank stare. How about tweeting and blogging? All new words introduced over a very short period of time. The official scrabble dictionary added over 5000 new words in the latest edition.
We don’t need great expanses of time to change a language, it’s happening every day.