Language versus language

When we speak to each other it is our fervent hope that we will be understood.  There are language barriers and cultural barriers and even economical barriers but for the most part we do understand each other.  Unfortunately there is another barrier that is not as easily surmounted: the generational barrier.

Today’s generation speaks digitally.  They form whole conversations in 140 characters.  That’s characters not words.  Language is a signpost for our culture and as such it must constantly be evolving.  I’m quite happy not to be using words like ‘thou’ and ‘yea’ in my everyday conversations.  And I absolutely understand the need for brevity.  But perhaps I have passed over the invisible barrier that separates ‘them’ from ‘us’.  I need more than 140 characters to convey, well, anything!  I don’t LOL.  I actually use whole words when I laugh out loud!  I know, I know, I sound like my parents did when we used words like ‘cool’ and ‘awesome’ to describe everything.  I heard someone the other day using the word ‘cool’ and I looked to see if it was someone over 50.  It wasn’t!  The word may be making a comeback.  That would be so cool!

Everything affects language.  Music, fashion, technology and even travel will affect our speech.  The more our disparate countries interact with one another the more cross-pollination of words seems to happen.  The English language is the one I know best, it’s the only one I know well.  But I also realize that the English language is not a pure language.  It is made up of words from other cultures through colonization and trade.  Words that we are convinced are English words actually have an origin in other languages.  The word bungalow comes from India.  The word assassin is an Arabic word.  The word robot is of Czech origin.  Status quo is Latin.  The list is seemingly endless.

As a species we need to evolve.  We once wallowed in the primordial sludge shortly after the Big Bang and now we are testing our wings in space.  The human race has spawned magnificence in the art world, in technology and in the written word regardless of what language it is written in.  We all belong to one race: the human race and I happen to think we are pretty incredible!  Sometimes when I listen to modern music I wonder if the concept of de-evolution is alive and well!  But in truth it is simply evolution at work.  You always have to shake a little bit to get rid of the useless bits.

vista3Tomorrow will be the today we dreamt about yesterday!

19 thoughts on “Language versus language

  1. scottishmomus

    Very well written and sentiments expressed. I struggle with ‘lolling’ and other such acronyms. But, you’re so right. Language is a process of evolution. I love my etymological dictionary and am fascinated by where words originate and how we adopt them as our own.
    I am frowned on by my children for using the word, ‘sound’ to demonstrate satisfaction. Apparently, the word on my aged tongue only has the effect of causing guffaws and snickers. Little sods.
    What is neverendingly fascinating is watching the meaning of words change. Perhaps watching is the wrong expression. I don’t see it happening and then I use a word or my kids do only to discover that we mean different things by it. Evolving again.
    I remember trying to teach the kids in my class a prayer. The word breast figured twice. As in the sense of, ‘holding close to my breast within’. I gave up on it. Eight year olds and the word breast are just not a good combination.
    Sorry for yacking on a bit but I really enjoyed this post and your thoughts.x


    1. quiall Post author

      I love it when you ‘yack’ on! Thanks for sharing your thoguhts. I remember when ‘gay’ meant happy and ‘pot’ held water! How the times are changing!


      1. scottishmomus

        We had the police in school talking to a Primary 6 class years ago about drug awareness. They referred to ‘taking a bucket’. I thought they meant getting drunk. They didn’t. I gathered it, eventually, from the kids’ responses. Can hardly keep up with the changes.x


      2. scottishmomus

        Me too, at the time. Now it’s fairly common parlance in these parts. I still don’t know exactly what’s involved but I have a fair idea. I’m supposed to kind of keep up to date on things like this to be effective in teaching Health awareness. But, some of the kids definitely know more than me. Which is sad, given the subject area.x


  2. LindaGHill

    I still worry that the English language will devolve so much that no one will be able to enjoy the classics. There are many kids out there now who can’t read cursive. Personally, I find it all discouraging.


  3. Marsha in the D

    Someone I know used the word ‘crib’ recently and noticed the stunned look on my face. They asked if I knew what it meant. I said yes it means home ….I just hadn’t heard it for forty years. I am hearing a comeback of all sorts of words used in the music world of old making a comeback.


  4. Howisbradley

    I say “cool” all the time, but I am 49 (for the first time.) The word I commonly use that always gets laughs is “groovy.” It’s a good word and I’m hoping to be the man who brings it back.



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