The English Language: Evolving, or Devolving?
August 8, 2008 ‐ 6 comments

english-language-dayDid you notice the error in this title? If you did, how much did it bother you?

Language is changing. But is it degenerating? Or is it simply shedding antiquated encumbrances?

• It’s vs. Its
• Your vs. You’re
• Their vs. They’re
• The subjunctive voice

Language is becoming more relaxed. IM’s, SMS’s, Facebook, blogs, wikis – they’re profoundly influencing how we read, write, speak, listen, and even relate to each other.

But is that really emblematic of a “linguistic whateverism” toward formal English? Is it really that there are too many rules to remember? Or is the way we communicate getting more abbreviated purposefully, because today there’s simply no time to edit? After all, if I don’t communicate RIGHT NOW, you’ll have moved on to the next thing.

What does this mean for the future of formal written English? Is good grammar lost irretrievably? Is this the end of literacy as we know it? Or is to condemn modern malapropisms to deny users of language versatility, and the chance to exercise creativity?

What if we really are transcending the limits of yore and approaching more pure – and more efficient – modalities of expression and understanding?

Aren’t the grammar and spelling sticklers out there fighting against language’s natural selection process? I used to feel so annoyed when I heard people say “on accident”, “irregardless”, or “could of”. But now I just feel unevolved.

Got a literary or verbal erratum to extol or vilify? We’d love to read about it.

Tell your friends:
Vanguard Group Goes Mavericky with “Vanguarding” Campaign
April 20, 2010 7:31 am
[...] not latter day Neo-Luddites decrying the devolution of English as trademarked brands turn into verbs.  We happily FedEx, Skype, TiVo, Hoover, Google and [...]
November 13, 2008 2:20 pm
Thanks very much. I agree whole heartedly that the English language is being destroyed or bastardized. I often think of the film Idiocracy and can see the jagged line where intelligence becomes pass'e. Although correct grammar may not reflect directly upon a persons intelligence, it illustrates a persons want to be understood in an intelligent form.
October 28, 2008 5:47 pm
Great work.
August 12, 2008 1:02 pm
Oh yeah, and "would of". My skin crawls when I hear/read "would of".
August 9, 2008 3:35 am
It's definitely "I could not care less" My least favorite new expression is "on line" as in I waited on line for the bathroom. It's "in line" people!
August 8, 2008 2:20 pm
I think it is wonderful that language evolves (devolves?) and changes with our technologies. The lexicon of the Internet both challenges me and entertains me. But when I say such things as "that's very unique" or "hells to the yes" I still hear my teachers' voices in my head trying to keep me in some sort of line. But the line moves and I move with it. I do have a running argument with someone over whether the phrase is "I could care less" or "I could not care less."

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