Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Words of Wonder

Instead of Wordless Wednesday, let's do the opposite. Let's take an in depth look at words, specifically communication. Viaggiatore and I went to Japan recently to pay a brief visit to Kumonkey at "Mountain to the sea". We were discussing language; he teaches English to Japanese students of every age. He said, "... my students don`t have perfect English but can still get their point across..." and my response was this:

Communication is one of the most important (if not the single most important) tool that humans use in surviving and growing, be it linguistically, physically or any of a myriad of several other methods. Your "...students don`t have perfect English but can still get their point across..." echoed the change in communication that we see here in the states too... each generation uses language in it's own way. Most of the young Americans that I know don't have perfect English but can still get their point across. I am reminded of Professor Henry Higgins in "My Fair Lady" who sang, " common language I'm afraid we'll never get..." I'm afraid he was right.

What I can't decide is whether the English language has been lost or just continually evolves. Ebonics is huge in the states now. It drives me crazy to listen to people use grammatically incorrect speech every day, but that gets into a whole different soap box issue about education. The point (forgive my digression) is that "students don't have perfect English but still get their point across" is rampant in countries where English is the first language.

It has happened all throughout time... the way we speak to each other changes with every generation.

Is it lost, is it evolved?
Diluted or dissolved?

Is it something that should be lamented? Sorrow or disdain for those who do not communicate the way that we do? Is it wrong? Is it worse? or... is it just different? How many words have fallen out of use and are no longer even printed in the dictionary? I have several language resource books, I like to read them... they are a definitive history of humanity. What we were, what it meant, and it makes me wonder how it will change again as time passes and we morph into whatever we will be next. Nothing ever goes backward, we will never speak as the generations who came before us did, and we probably won't speak as the generations who come after us do... "I'm down wit dat" will likely never escape my lips, and the chances are slim that "I'm inclined to acquiesce" will ever come from the mouths of the babes who are born today.

Loss or evolution? If it is loss, then the words of those who came before us were lost also... continual loss throughout the existence of humanity, but if it is evolution... then we are part of a cycle that continues to spiral forward into the unknown as it always has. We have an innate fear of that which we do not know or understand. Perhaps it is this fear which feeds the distaste for a method of communication that is different than what we know and believe to be right.

What do you think?


Remiman said...

I think I have some serious thoughts on this subject, yet is seems as though the fog from the river this morning is rolling into my conciousness and muddleing my critical thinking skills. So I'll reserve comment 'til the fog lifts.
Perhaps I should comment in Latin but hen I never studied Latin. ;)

Jon M said...

Language changes and changes. I get sniffy when I see a sign for a 'swim club' but that's just me and some would despise my semi-scouse accent so I guess what I'm saying is, ' We all live in a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine, a...' sorry fog off remiman's river just put me off. I never learnt latin neither! Welsh?

MyUtopia said...

Great post! I hope you had a wonderful fourth!

Wanderlust Scarlett said...


I have several serious thoughts on this myself... SIGH.
Fog always calls for coffee or tea and that always helps my mind.
Please feel free to call again when the fog has lifted and your thoughts are all in order.


I like your accent, it makes me laugh. I love yellow submarines too. *swoon* Beatles...
You are definitely speaking my language! ha ha...


I had a great 4th, hope yours was great too!!

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Anonymous said...

Language is alive and growing like people, so why shouldn't it change over time? And as for communication, I'm a pragmatist so I say it is more important to get your message across than it is to become consumed with the proper way to do it. I prefer the proper way to speak and write, but I don't have to have it to understand what someone is saying to me.