πŸ“‘ Why it’s time to stop worrying about the decline of the English language

Bookmarked Why it’s time to stop worrying about the decline of the English language (the Guardian)

The long read: People often complain that English is deteriorating under the influence of new technology, adolescent fads and loose grammar. Why does this nonsensical belief persist?

In an adaptation from Don’t Believe a Word: The Surprising Truth About Language, David Shariatmadarin reflects on the continual fear over time of the death of the English Language. Rather than death, he argues that it is continually changing.

Any given language is significantly reconfigured over the centuries, to the extent that it becomes totally unrecognisable. But, as with complex systems in the natural world, there is often a kind of homeostasis: simplification in one area can lead to greater complexity in another. What stays the same is the expressive capacity of the language. You can always say what needs to be said.

Some of the ways that language changes, include:

  • Reanalysis:Β when a word or sentence has a structural ambiguity and changes to a new understanding.
  • Grammaticalisation: a phrase is made into a word with a solely grammatical function.
  • Sound Changes: where certain ways of saying things are seen as having prestige, while others are stigmatised.

Another reason that writer’s fear death is that it is the death of the English language as they know it.Β Shariatmadarin argues that older people experience greater linguistic disorientation as the language that they have grown up with changes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *