Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Living Language

I've always been fascinated with the science of Linguistics, even when I was a little kid and didn't know that term.

When my brother was a toddler learning to talk I could understand him when the grown-ups couldn't, and that made me feel important. Then we moved from New Jersey to California when I was five years old and I was amazed that people out west used different words for some things than people did back east.

I took lots of electives in college on the subject,of Linguistics, too.

And I'm still fascinated by the way languages evolve over the years.

English has the largest vocabulary of any language on our planet because it has been influenced by nearly every other culture over the centuries.  Since most people reading this would find the topic boring I won't begin to list the various ones that have influenced our language over the centuries. If any of us were to time-travel to England hundreds of years ago we'd probably find it difficult to communicate, at least for a while.

English is still changing because it's a living language. Only languages no longer in use stop changing.

That's why it bugs me when I hear people complain about how others are using grammar and vocabulary that wasn't used in the past. Okay, maybe our high school English teachers would have given us bad marks for some of the modern usages, and current English teachers and professors may do the same. And in formal, academic writing those things aren't acceptable.

But centuries in the future many of them will have become standard usage - unless our culture has been destroyed and English is a dead language.

I certainly hope that doesn't happen.


BarbaraB said...

Hi Janet Ann,
I'm with you when it comes to enjoying the intricacies of linguistics. I majored in English and wish I had taken more courses in linguistics.

Janet Ann Collins said...

Thanks, Barbara. No wonder we write.