In an accelerating age of instant communication, word and sentence structure adapt faster than ever, almost too fast for us to keep track. Abbreviations more suitable to text and IM creep steadily into everyday use; looking deeper, this change is led by a younger generation. As our education system prioritises new criteria, so our language changes with each passing year. Love it or hate it, it’s inevitable.
When my son acquires his first mobile, I doubt I’ll even understand his text messages.
And I’m sure that’s part of the point.
Yet the ghost of my English teacher haunts me still. Bless Jock Craig, that man taught a wonder and joy in the versatility and beauty of our language that has never left me. Despite his stern humour, he had a passion for his craft that infected all of us. From Beowulf to Chaucer to Milton to modernity, I defy any Ardinian taught by Jock to have come away texting lolcat.
In a week that’s seen the demise of the printed Oxford English Dictionary – is the traditional edifice of our language crumbling? Whither its remnant now?
This is Save The Words. A site where you can show your love of the depth and richness – and downright bloody stupidity – of the English language by ‘adopting’ a word and promising to use it in day-to-day conversation.
Here are some of my favourites: –
Snobographer – one who writes about snobs
Perantique – very old or ancient
Vadosity – shallow body of water that can be crossed by wading
Quadragintireme – vessel with forty pairs of oars
Lubency – willingness, pleasure
The list goes ever on – it’s mesmeric and compelling.
If you choose to adopt a word, the site will tell you that 90% of everything we write is communicated by only 7,000 words – and I’m guessing that’s not including txtspk. Here is Oxford taking up the challenge, adapting with the times and bringing our language full-circle – using the very digital technology that’s causing the change to ride it and move with it.
Go on: adopt a word. Tell a friend, opt into the word-a-day email. Pick up your own word-banner and make sure it’s seen and heard.
No-one says you can’t like lolcats. But take a moment to think about where they came from.