Progression or degeneration?

This is the place to post questions and discussions on usage and style. The members of the Wordwizard Clubhouse will also often be able to help you to formulate that difficult letter.
Post Reply

Progression or degeneration?

Post by Bobinwales » Thu Aug 07, 2008 4:29 pm

I have noticed a tendency of words being run into one another of late.

I go there everyday.
I like her alot.

There are many others, but they do not come quickly to my mind anymore. (I wrote that light-heartedly, and was amazed to find that the Word spellchecker did not try to correct it, no wavy line!).

What is this all about? Is it that the the language progressing? Is it that the language is degenerating? Is it just that people cannot spell any longer? Will I be told that “anylonger” is acceptable?

Does spelling itself matter now, or is it enough to say “Oh, you know what I mean” when someone gets there meaning wrong?
Post actions:
Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

Re: Progression or degeneration?

Post by trolley » Thu Aug 07, 2008 6:19 pm

I here ya, Bob. Often, I do know what they mean but I can't help but make judgements when I see it. Right or wrong, it's just a tidbit of information that helps form my opinion about someone. I guess it's just my (human) nature.
Post actions:

Re: Progression or degeneration?

Post by Phil White » Fri Aug 08, 2008 1:49 am

In language as in virtually every other aspect of society, the pace of change is accelerating.

The trend towards writing common collocations as a single word (often with an intermediate hyphenated stage) is not new. Words like "website" or "frontend" are commonplace (both are also frequently seen with the hyphen).

"Alot" and "everyday", however hateful they may be to our sensibilities (yes, to mine also), are no different in respect of their evolution from collocations such as "all right/alright". I was constantly corrected at school and even as an English teacher for my use of "alright", although it dates well back into the 19th century and is very widespread.

Unlike the generations before us, we are witnessing language change before our very eyes. Like all exciting things, it can also be a little alarming (believe me, I was a freeclimber [sic] for ten years or so).

On a side note, "everyday" is perhaps understandable, as it is a perfectly normal spelling for the meaning "an everyday occurrence". Spellcheckers will therefore not capture it.
Post actions:
Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus

Re: Progression or degeneration?

Post by Shelley » Fri Aug 08, 2008 4:01 pm

Your example of "all right/alright" reminds me of a story:
A fellow student in a college Shakespeare class was reciting Puck's speech from "A Midsummer Night's Dream.
"Thou speak'st all right. I am that merry wand'rer of the night --", he said, whereupon the professor interrupted him.
"No, no, it's 'Thou speak'st ARIGHT. It's ARIGHT -- I AM that merry . . . ' and so on. Begin again, please"
My friend began again. "Thou speak'st all right. I AM that . . . "
He never did get it right, and the teacher threw in the towel on it eventually.
Post actions:

Re: Progression or degeneration?

Post by PhilHunt » Fri Aug 08, 2008 4:25 pm

On a low-art note. That reminds me of an episode of the Simpsons where the Directors of an action movie try to get the leading character Radioactive Man (who resembles a certain Terminator star) to say the catch-phrase "Up and atom". He just can't stop himself from saying "Up and at them" until they finally give up.
Post actions:
Signature: That which we cannot speak of, must be passed over in silence...or else tweeted.

Re: Progression or degeneration?

Post by hsargent » Sat Aug 09, 2008 1:18 am

I had not noticed the language simplification movement which is the premise of this thread. But it does make you think how language will further degrade with the advent of "texting"!

I don't participate because the lack of need and dislike for unnecessary expense. But the difficultly of typing only with thumbs or how ever it is accomplished does not promote being excessively wordy!
Post actions:
Signature: Harry Sargent

Re: Progression or degeneration?

Post by Erik_Kowal » Sat Aug 09, 2008 6:42 am

Harry,

Not long ago my intuitive perception was similar to yours: surely texting must be eroding literacy, particularly among the young.

However, according to the respected linguistician David Crystal, who has just published a book that examines how texting is being used in practice, this is not the case.

Allow me to point you to some discussions centred around the book and its findings, among them a blog entry by Crystal himself:

General news article summarising Crystal's findings, 'The Death of English (LOL)'
http://www.newsweek.com/id/150449

(I have also posted an excerpt from the Newsweek article as today's 'Language news' item.)

Blog by David Crystal, 'Dispelling the Texting Myths'
http://blog.oup.com/2008/07/txtng/

Review of David Crystal's book, ' Txtng: The gr8 db8'
http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/ ... 356448.ece
Post actions:
Signature: -- Looking up a word? Try OneLook's metadictionary (--> definitions) and reverse dictionary (--> terms based on your definitions)8-- Contribute favourite diary entries, quotations and more here8 -- Find new postings easily with Active Topics8-- Want to research a word? Get essential tips from experienced researcher Ken Greenwald

Re: Progression or degeneration?

Post by PhilHunt » Sat Aug 09, 2008 12:17 pm

Something I've often noticed is the confusion over the use of grand+relative.
Most people don't make a mistake with grandmother, grandfather etc.. but granddaughter....
Google has 8.210.000 hits for 'granddaughter', 1.380.000 hits for 'grand daughter', 976.000 for grandaughter and 5.480 hits for 'gran-daughter'.

This however is something I can understand and doesn't concern me too much. After all, we say "Grand Canyon" not 'Grandcanyon'.

What Bob pointed out at the beginning of this thread is very true though. Spell checkers sometimes hinder spelling rather than improve it. I've noticed a number of times that Microsoft Word corrects my spelling of 'its' to 'it's' or vice-versa, resulting in incorrect sentences such as "What's it's name?" or "Do you know what its used for?"
Post actions:
Signature: That which we cannot speak of, must be passed over in silence...or else tweeted.

Re: Progression or degeneration?

Post by Phil White » Sat Aug 09, 2008 1:46 pm

Two of the reasons for the development of abbreviations in texting were the limit on the length of texts and the effective cost per character sent. Also, of course, the speed with which a text could be composed before the advent of predictive texting (T9 and similar technologies) was greater if the text was abbreviated. The development of "textese" had a useful purpose.

But is it all that different from the various note-taking methods that many of us have developed? In my university days, I used a method that involved dropping most vowels and complete unstressed syllables and using simple strokes or abbreviations for certain common words that I frequently needed. Sometimes I'd use specific abbreviations for a given set of notes and annotate them at the top. Most of my colleagues used similar systems.

I came across some old notes a while ago when researching for one of the threads on creole languages and was struck by the similarity to today's "textese". I'm not aware that my use of the technique has made me illiterate.
Post actions:
Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus

Re: Progression or degeneration?

Post by spiritus » Sat Aug 16, 2008 2:13 am

"In language as in virtually every other aspect of society, the pace of change is accelerating." ---- Phil White

DSTR8!

Present linguistic progression is language regeneration...

Thanks Erik. Great book and links.
Post actions:
Signature: Che Baraka

Re: Progression or degeneration?

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Sat Aug 16, 2008 10:17 pm

I've beenworkingon textedwallpaper 4 mobilehomes.
Post actions:

End of topic.
Post Reply