Changing Language

I heard Will Self while giving a radio talk in that rather pompous style he affects claim that the English language was better (if I understood him correctly) for all the new words and jargon that recent technology and diverse cultures had caused to be imported into it.

I think Mr Self overlooks the problem of  new words which mostly drive out old words. Language is a tool for communication. It is used for communications between the living and communications from the dead to the living. Driving out old words by using new words makes it harder to understand the dead whose wisdom will be lost to all but a handful of academics who will acquire the knowledge to interprets their words.

New words for new concepts are important.  New words for old merely puts the person who exchanges a word for a new word in the same position as he who exchanged an old lamp for a new one.

 

3 Responses

  1. Although I didn’t hear the radio programme I cannot see any effect of the influence of diverse cultures. I just hear the influence of one, rather distasteful culture.

    American.

    Why do so many people speak as though they are unsure of what they say? Constantly speaking in rising inflexions prevents emphasis or meaning in the way language is delivered. Also, as you say, substution of american for english. Why do we say guys, folks etc. What happened to people? Why do americanistas just guess all the time when they mean suspect or probably. As I see it american vocabulary is the result of lazy thinking.

    Hardly an improvement is it?

    • It is not just the words that we use and the way that we use them that puts barriers to communication but also the inflections that we ape from Australia and The United States of America. I fear the terminal interrogative which is a poor way to communicate providing imprecision and deflecting from the communication.

      Robert

  2. The written word and or language was originally used for control, when most of the people could not read and write, the intelligentsia were all talking in riddles, others were trying to survive.

    To see how simple Ammonian radicals evolved study religion and how itself evolved from sun worship, and you will understand how we all talk today.

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