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Is the English Language -- Are Other Languages -- Doomed?

When I was a child, Mom would "nag" me if I made a mistake in my speech. I suppose she couldn't help it. She'd majored in English at Temple University, after all. But it didn't stop with my mom.

I have became rather loquacious, as a result. Although imperfect, I am a perfectionist. Maybe I go too far.

Today, the rule seems to be that pronunciation, spelling, grammar, and even logic do not matter. While it's good to take a reasonable approach, at the same time a lackadaisical attitude threatens to degrade communication.

Consider a couple of common, minor errors thrust upon us due to our not taking a diligent stance...

  1. George is stressed out. His friend tells him he should " try and relax ". Suppose he does try and fails. How does that help him relax? He should have been advised " try to relax ".
  2. In his geometry class, Bob demonstrates exceptional skill. His friend, Bill, suggests he is " better than any " of the students. Would it not be better to say that Bob is better than any other student ? You see, Bob is not better than himself.

True, we understand the intent. Yet even so, the logic of communication has been compromised.

Image Credit » Pixabay

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lookatdesktop wrote on March 26, 2018, 9:14 PM

A common mistake. I tend to omit some words in my sentences as I speak out loud to others. I know it's better of course, to use proper English, as you say. Is it doomed? I think is has, in many cases, gone way beyond that. Like, I ain't gonna bother tryin to change people cause they use TEXTing language and emoticons anyway. LOL

MegL wrote on March 27, 2018, 3:17 AM

My parents both corrected my English as a child and I do that to my children and grandchildren. English is a complex language and needs constant practice and learning.

Kasman wrote on March 27, 2018, 3:28 PM

Language evolves over time and even the meaning of words changes. Google was originally only a company name (a noun) but it has morphed into the adjective to Google and (as lookatdesktop comments) social media has led to the introduction of new ways of expressing ourselves - a kind of 'shorthand' for words and phrases - LOL, WTF, OMG and even emojis and emoticons can be used instead of actual words as a quick way to reply to someone. Many lament that the various social medias are 'ruining our language' but I prefer to say that our language(s) are evolving and I do not believe that communication is being degraded although it is certainly being altered. So are our languages doomed? Well, yes, as we speak them today, but 'doomed' is the wrong word. I say that they are being advanced. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Actually VinceSummers it's probably only old codgers like you and I who care. The younger generation doesn't seem to be bothered - they are embracing these changes wholeheartedly!

Last Edited: March 27, 2018, 3:30 PM

VinceSummers wrote on March 27, 2018, 8:46 PM

It's easier to travel downhill than on a level plain. If the changes were constructive ones, I would agree. Some of them may be. But in all frankness, I do not believe most of them are. As is the case with other aspects of Society, I "see the entropy increasing."

RonElFran wrote on April 3, 2018, 2:26 AM

The problem is that languages adamantly refuse to follow the "logic of communication." I remember when I was studying Spanish in Mexico. The instructor emphasized that students who expect the language to follow rules of logic (liks us engineer types) are the ones who will never master the language. I understand that English is a particularly messy language for non-native speakers to learn.

VinceSummers wrote on April 3, 2018, 7:47 AM

Precisely! I've long held a position should be created entitled "Word Engineer". And there should be corresponding others who determine what will, and what will not, be admitted into the language.