I posted my Emial moaning on a variety of LinkedIn groups and the reaction has been incredible. I am encouraged to know that I’m not the only one who feels so passionately about the apparent demise of our, curiously, dominating language. Doesn’t that seem like it’s all about-face?
English is undeniably the world’s most spoken language. (Cue David Brent moment!) FACT.
(… that includes as a foreign language incidentally – Mandarin still rules the roost with the most native speakers BUT (what do you mean I’m off on a tangent?!) which country has the highest number of English speakers? China! FACT.
Returning to my point. Isn’t it all a spot odd that while English dominates the business, popular culture and social media worlds, it seems to be deteriorating remarkably quickly.
As is its want, English borrows, evolves and expands, but it also seems to be bailing out as quickly as its taking on water. Punctuation and grammar are being dropped in favour of an even more fathomless vocabulary. I wonder if I want to lose the gentle mysteries and freedom of an ellipsis in order to adopt one of the newest words ‘meh’. I can’t deny, I have been known to use this eminently useful little written noise, the less offensive, gentler little cousin of the utterly abhorrent ‘whatever’, but I suspect if you were to pit it in a race against, say, the colon, my money would be on ‘meh’ winning hands down: what a dreadful shame.
Language, though, HAS to move on. Clearly we need these new words or we wouldn’t be creating them. I have a smashing read by Jeffrey Kacirk called Forgotten English which has some fantastic words that are all but forgotten (hence the name!) but that shine a fairly glaring light on many of the words we use today: gargarice, for example, was a thirteenth-century Old French word for mouthwash. Does that ring any bells? What do you do with mouthwash? You gargle. Hmm…
Vocabulary is one thing, terms come and go – as of course do punctuation and grammar rules. I was sat only makes sense if you’re an incredibly precocious 6-month-old, incapable of walking and had been placed somewhere pleasant to enjoy a view; you were done to, someone else put you there. I was sitting however is still the accepted, expected correct usage; but how long do you think it will be until I was sat becomes the accepted grammatical rule and I was sitting pales into nothingness along with gargarice and its friends?
Should we try to hold onto some treasured parts of our language and resist the change; or should we encourage it to grow and develop and hang on tightly throughout the ride?
Gorgayse, incidentally is/was Middle English for elegant or fashionable.