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March 20, 2013

Is Texting Killing The English Language?

English, like every language throughout history, has faced many challenges from conquest, immigration and emigration and...

...many other crises and challenges.

As you can imagine, languages have a whole new category of threats right now. Texting is one of those technological threats impacting not only our daily lives and routine but also our language.

There are those who fear that texting is destroying the English language, but John McWhorter doesn’t think so. You can see – and hear – him explain why he thinks English, and perhaps every world language, is strong enough to resist the pull of Twitter (among many other things) right here -
http://blog.ted.com/2013/02/28/the-linguistic-miracle-of-texting-john-mcwhorter-at-ted2013/
.

I like John McWhorter, in fact I reviewed on of his books on this blog quite a while ago, and I’d have to agree that English is much more resilient than perhaps any other language, in fact that may be its biggest weakness as well as its largest strength.

Here’s what I mean; texting may not kill English, but look at what it is doing. In fact, it could be argued that texting is doing what we all do to our language – it’s just doing it faster and across the whole world - http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2013/mar/15/twitter-users-tribes-language-analysis-tweets.

I have friends who tell me that I have my own way of mangling the English language – perhaps we all do. When I use the word ‘always’ for example, I don’t, ahem, always pronounce the ‘l’. So it sounds something like ‘ow-ways’.

I’d never spell it that way of course, so I don’t think it will leave a permanent mark on the language, so perhaps it’s my personal version of what texting does – a minor blip with no real consequence – we hope.

On the other hand, sometimes perfectly good words just drop out of use. When was the last time you ‘groaked’? I’ve done it many, perhaps too many times. Or do you know anyone ‘with squirrel’?

And if you travel or know a language besides English, you might run into a word or concept that is ‘Englishable’.

If you want to know what these words mean, take a look here -
http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/195348/18-obsolete-words-which-should-have-never-gone-out-of-style/.

Until next time,

Morf

Posted by mmorf at March 20, 2013 10:12 PM

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