The English language is dying...

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The English language is dying...

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Editado: Nov 12, 2006, 2:01pm


I had to share somewhere where I knew people would feel my pain. ;)

Jan 30, 2007, 9:33am

Wow :(

Jan 30, 2007, 9:41am


Jan 30, 2007, 9:57am

to be fair though " in English examinations, where candidates were specifically required to demonstrate proper use of language, text abbreviations would be penalised."

Besides it is going that way - anybody read Russel Hoban's Riddley Walker? a modern(ish) classic piece of literature. Well by some definitions.

Jan 30, 2007, 11:57pm

I feel kind of like Riddley Walker is different, though. Hoban creates a kind of future-English as an aesthetic and literary device to further the impact of his novel. He doesn't pretend that it's correct English for people to speak today; it's more of a way of showing how different his future is from the present (I like to think that Riddley's English compared to ours is approximately like ours compared to Middle English in terms of how intelligible a speaker/writer of one is to a listener/reader of the other). As far as I'm concerned, people who use textspeak because they can't be bothered to write words out fully or use something approaching proper grammar are a whole different animal. Maybe it's just another dialect of English, but I don't think it's one that we should be encouraging people to use in serious social interactions (which for me would definitely include any writing produced for academic purposes).

Riddley Walker, by the way, is an absolutely incredible book. I read it for this crazy English/philosophy class taught by an absolutely nutty professor, and I think it was almost the only thing we were assigned all quarter that I liked at all. It totally blew my mind.

Fev 3, 2007, 7:35pm

text speak is what my notes used to look like. Definitely sad.

Fev 12, 2007, 2:01pm

It's only dying in the prescriptivist sense. If you're a descriptivist, it's arguably more vital than ever (since we lot have been alive).

Fev 12, 2007, 2:24pm

Taking one example from the wiki article: If literally and figuratively now mean the same thing, we have lost two useful words and have no good replacements. That's very different from worrying about "ain't" versus "isn't" or "aren't."

A language is supposed to express ideas, isn't it? IMO any usage which muddles the meaning is to be deplored, and can be a benefit only to politicians and other demagogues.

Fev 12, 2007, 3:01pm

avaland (#6) Not sad at all if your notes were for yourself. Probably not much different from mine looking a bit like a version of T-line (a kind of shorthand). What matters more is that some examination boards (here in UK as well as NZ) seem to think this is acceptable in the education context. There was a time when education was about aspirations and raising the cultural level of pupils; not reducing everything to a 'lowest common denominator'.

Editado: Fev 26, 2007, 7:43am

I've yet to read Riddley Walker but I am definitely interested now. I am not a big movie fan but it draws a similar comparison to the movie "Idiocracy." It is disheartening because the future established in the movie is quite realizable and this seems to be fueling it along.

11jeungyorlip Primeira Mensagem
Abr 12, 2007, 4:25pm

I was actually having this conversation with someone the other day, about the way language has evolved. English is not an arbitrary language; it is influenced by so many other languages. Britain (England) did not start out as an English speaking country. We also discussed this article where an athropologist noted that as much as 100 indigineous languages are lost and/or fazed out every year!

12pblitt Primeira Mensagem
Maio 10, 2007, 2:49pm

"Riddley Walker" is an amazing work because it stretches your sense of language, apart from being a damn good story.

Don't worry too much about loss of clarity in English. New words will be added to replace those that lost or muddled. English is dynamic; even when it is debased (txt msgs, etc.), it finds some way to thrive and make poetry. Or maybe that's just people...

Jun 16, 2007, 8:24am

I know I am behind on this discussion (I just noticed it today), but I had to comment. I read where several of you said that Riddley Walker was hard for you to read. I read the first chapter on Amazon out of curiosity. I literally laughed out loud. This is my every day reading. I teach sophomores and, unfortunately, many of them write this way. Most of them don't write complete gobbledygook, but a lot of them I have to read and reread, and sometimes read aloud, just to decipher what they are trying to express.

My goal as their English teacher is to help them improve their communication. I never want to be the dictator about commas and tenses, but I try to explain that the rules are so that others can more easily understand what they are writing. They do catch on to this when they read each others' papers.

Editado: Jun 20, 2007, 11:25am

"I never want to be a dictator about commas and tenses, but . . ."

my question is: who are you serving? your students or yourself? i taught just one summer at the junior or community college level. I was told by administration they didn't like another teacher nearby because he had a 25 percent dropout ratio. i found that my students tended to average 30 to 35 years of age and were housewifes and workers who hadn't written anything but letters to lovers and families in years. also there were three "students" who didn't understand nouns, verbs, direct objects, punctuation, or the difference between fragments and complete sentences. I went to one student's social science teacher who had given him an "A." She told me that "I don't care if every word is misspelled and there isn't any punctuation at all as long as his subject matter is good." His subject matter was an essay on the civil rights movement. she was a 40-something black woman. Nuff said.

we (adults) are abandoning principles and our future. it is no mistake we have a president for six years who doesn't understand anything but bulls, bait, and bullshit. we have dumbed down and teachers who don't care about english are one of the three main reasons (the other being television and computers). I belong to the Scrabble Internet Club and it just put in a type of play called VOID. With VOID, one has the word researched and authenticated before it can appear on screen. What kind of learning is this? Without pain there is no gain.

Frankly, I think we of 60-plus have to die so society can be rid of us. We love the purity of English way too much!!

By the way, my dropout rate for two classes was 50 percent. I never returned.

Jun 20, 2007, 3:13pm

My original statement was that I do not want to be a language dictator. Anyone who is around teenagers regularly knows that you cannot force them to do anything. It is much more effective to persuade them through example and logic. As I do in my classroom.

Unfortunately, it generally is only the teachers (and mainly the English teachers) who do care about the language. For instance, to address your example, our President, how am I to convey that proper, educated English is important to succeed in life? Have you seen the clip of his discussion of tribal sovereignty ( He became president and yet.... This year we had quite an uproar here in Texas because we had so many students who did not get to graduate because they did not pass the TAKS test. One of the protestors carried a sign that said, "Let are kids walk!!"

So how am I to overcome the laxity of society as well as the apathy of the previous ten or eleven years of schooling? I have accepted that I cannot. I do know that they leave my classroom at the end of the year speaking and writing better than they came in.

Jun 23, 2007, 12:57pm

# Message 15

Andyray, I wholeheartedly agree with you. It is also playing in the Netherlands, and not only with the language, but with knowledge in general. My parents had more homework, more subjects and more difficult exams in the various courses then I had and other students nowadays in the country. People my age (23) or younger have no interests in cultural things or hobbies whatsoever. It is really sad. The only thing they can is looking and acting like an adult with their mobile phones, notebook, make-up and high heels. But knowledge? Principals? A bit of moral? I am afraid not...

18polutropon Primeira Mensagem
Jul 20, 2007, 2:07pm

Come on. If you can't tell from context whether or not a speaker is using the word "literally" - well - literally, that's a problem with you, not a problem with the speaker. The elitist notion that language abuse is not naturally part and parcel to language use, change, and growth is positively infuriating. What do you expect when literacy rates are higher in the civilized world than they've ever been before? It's obvious that when you expand the literacy franchise, you invite new usages in.

Ago 3, 2007, 9:38am

now for the other side of the story:

in my daily life among the language deficit, I use street language so I may communicate the important concept of a Loving God to them (I work with drug addicts and alkies). Generally speaking, they can understand Mick Jagger's "I aint got no SATISFACTION" much easier than "the continued usage of crack cocaine may lead you to a life of unrecognizable judgements regarding your surrounding reality, and will definitely make you an emotional cripple."

If I want to communicate with others blessed by Our Loving God to be homo sapiens, I'd better learn their speech, whether it be eubonics or phonetics.

Like, do you dig back in the 1960s when we were groovy and turned on, those over-30 squares said we were messing up our language? Like, man, what a drag! Like, it didn't affect my bros any. any. any. any. any. any. any. any. (sorry -- acid flashback).