Sunday, 15 June 2014

It's Good To Talk... (and txt)

With apologies to all those who aren't UK-based - or under the age of about 25 - as Bob Hoskins used to say when advertising for BT, it's good to talk. And if you extend that to communicating in general, then there are very few sentiments more true (excluding communicating with weapons when a simple 'I don't agree' would suffice).

This is a a blog, but really a weblog - we like to make things simpler, and one syllable is obviously easier than two. Although that doesn't really explain why we say 'www' rather than 'world wide web' (nine syllables beating three in this case).

txt speak has become the norm these days and very few people still believe that lol stands for 'lot's of love' (which is just as well given the confusions that could cause), and many of us have been subjected to such things as 'trolling' - even I've been trolled (some say to the point of looking like one...).

Language evolves with time, and ever since the rhyming slang of the nineteenth century we enter gloriously colourful phrases derived from the current modern popular culture into common (and less common) usage - I have to have some of then explained to me, but that doesn't dilute their value. For example, when I was told that a thoroughly broken motorcycle was a 'real Kenny' and had it explained that I needed to know about South Park to fully appreciate it, well that was a real rofl moment.

Of course evolution is the only way forward and language must evolve alongside everything else. Our mother tongue, English, is a bastard language in the real sense of the word (especially if you have to learn it or took the old O-level in the language), and so very many of our words are 'borrowed' - okay, stolen - from other tongues. We anglify them - which makes schadenfreude rather unusual in a very schadenfreude sort of way. Just think about that when you're sitting on your bungalow's veranda, sipping a nice cup of cha, or maybe a uisge beatha (anglified neatly and tastefully into whisky).

I rather like the concept of language as a living thing. English has a vast dictionary - almost 700,000 words, excluding all the extensions and base variations - which makes Scrabble an endless (almost literally) pleasure, but the difference between the written and spoken word is gigantic.When writing down something we need to adhere to certain rules or meaning can be easily lost - not everything can be translated from spoken to written that easily - especially shortened combinations of word, innit?

It's been almost ten years since I took my English 'O' level.... okay twenty... okay, okay forty, and I would love to see the look of horror that 'just' four decades of language evolution would have wrought on the features of my then English teacher. I might just about get away with describing the look of horror on his 'boat' but if I called his awful wife as a 'minger' he would just look at me as if I was mad.

Until he looked up the real meaning in some modern language dictionary. He might even just agree with me then...

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