The Ever Evolving English Language

Sherrill Fulghum By Sherrill Fulghum, 15th Nov 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Essays

English class has been the bane of many a school student, but where does it go from here?

English: The Mother Tongue and Where it is Going

The United States of America is often referred to as the melting pot due to the plethora of cultures and nationalities that have landed in its shores. Many of these people landed here to escape tyranny or were just looking for a better way of lief.

When these peoples came to America they brought with them their beliefs and traditions; but they brought something else too – their language!

Today we speak a form of the English language but it has not always been that way.

While Christopher Columbus is credited with the “discovery” of the New World, he never stepped foot on North American soil – only some islands in the Caribbean Sea. Long before Columbus came along a group of Norsemen land in what many years later would be called Newfoundland in Canada.

It was the Spanish who first stepped on what later became known as Florida, but other than setting up a fort in St. Augustine there was no large permanent settlement.

In 1607 the English sent over the first of what would become a massive influx of newcomers; thus making a foundation for what would become the “official” language of the land – English.

But as other nations flowed in to the country, many “foreign” words filtered into the language. Eventually the “Queen's/King's English” became a language all its own with many strange words and spellings. The rules became fewer and the list of exceptions became longer as more words and phrases became a part of the language.

But perhaps the biggest change has taken place over the past few decades as what once was seen as a dialect became mainstream lingo and the onslaught of social media and the use of increasingly strange abbreviations and the shortenings of words became the norm.

In his book “The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got that Way”, Bill Bryson gives some history of the English language and how it has evolved or the years. Bryson wrote his book before the internet age but wondered if at some point whether it would evolve...or devolve...even further to become a simplistic language of pure phonetic spellings.

With the side use of U instead of you, UR for your or you're, R for are, prolly for probably, kewl for cool, and any number of such spellings it appears that the movement is already under way.

One has to wonder at what point teachers will abandon the old spellings – and abolish the spelling test – in lieu of the Twitter generation format.

It is said that English – especially the American variety – is the hardest language to learn as a second language because of the lack of meaningful rules and structure. But will the onslaught of the more basic word spellings make the task easier or even more difficult for people to learn? And will the dictionary go the way of the Dodo bird with so need to “look it up”?

If you have made it this far, let us try and compile our own “Basic English” dictionary. Comment with your own list of “commonly used” basic word spellings and let us see how many we can acquire. If there is enough, I will publish the whole list for all to see.

Oh, and make sure we know what the word was before it got changed.

Tags

American English, English Language, English The Mother Tongue, Evolving English, Internet Language

Meet the author

author avatar Sherrill Fulghum
Sherrill is an award winning journalist with a speciality in music and entertainment. She is also a photographer.

Sherril is a writer for thedailyvoice news.com

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Comments

author avatar Retired
15th Nov 2015 (#)

For me, nothing has changed since "textspeak" came along!

People have used various methods of shorthand for many years, but these have not changed the basic rules of grammar. An example is "Speedwriting" that dates from the 1920s.

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author avatar Sherrill Fulghum
15th Nov 2015 (#)

True and we have all used some form of our own shorthand when taking notes, but it has never been as widespread as it is today with the internet. The social media craze has almost created its own language.

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