Of grammar Nazis and the evolution of language

Published by GeorgeJetStoned in the blog GeorgeJetStoned's Schizoschism. Views: 318

Think about how our written language skills have changed. We went from writing paper letters, to voice communication and now we write electronic letters that travel instantaneously. Not only that, but our electronic letters can go to many more recipients or even out to the public at large. And like the most popular news stories, our writing can be elevated to mass exposure for being infamous or exceedingly clever.

Unfortunately, this also exposes any and all holes in our education. Grammatical and orthographic mistakes can stand out embarrassingly and destroy the original point of the prose instantly. But who among us can say we didn't sleep or daydream through a few (or several) English classes? Thankfully we have an army of assholes out there poised to reprimand us for our literary mistakes. Which is rather trite in an age where English has over a million words.

English itself went through a renaissance with the discovery of the New World. Prior to that it sounded much like German until the 12th century. Then came Middle English which required extra letters to solidify concepts (like shoppe). For a while it was a land of many different languages and fantastic trade resources. English speakers routinely borrowed words from other languages because they wanted to trade for specific things.

Then we had Shakespear who added hundreds of words to the language to make his job easier. An interesting example of blazingly fast evolution of language was a treaty written in the 10th century between the Frankreich and Ostreich kingdoms. In less than a century the Ostreich language had merged away from common Flemish and into more of the Germanic and reached a point that nobody could read the treaty anymore.

HG Wells wrote a dictionary that he felt made English far more efficient. It didn't catch on. Orwell later capitalized on this by making it seem as though the government would ultimately force the population to limit the lexicon. Instead, we have more words than ever. He was also wrong about the government spying on us. Sure they spy on some of us, but these days we spy on ourselves far more than the government ever considered.

In all of this we humans still think we're superior beings and yet, we're still working with brains made for living in the wild. Only our clever tools allow us to so readily fool ourselves into delusions of superiority. One of those tools is our self-contrived moral compass.

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