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Posted Mon Feb 23rd, 2009 4:05pm Post subject: Language Evolution
I’m not convinced on some points. I would welcome correction, if corrected I need be.

Our brains have evolved to facilitate speech. Surely, from the first grunts onward, the contents of our skulls have undergone tiny changes to get us where we are today. Just as with the "use of tools" and other memes, we have gone on to refine the our speech and have now arrived at the point where we are so advanced that we can also discuss what is "OK" and what is "not OK" in terms of our use of language.

The thing is, now that we know what evolution is and how it works, we have also reached an evolutionary point where we can manipulate evolution, including evolution of speech. Surely it is as unnatural, therefore, to claim that speech should be permitted to evolve as much as it is unnatural to wish that it should not? I cannot see what damage can be done to spines, teeth and claws, whether canine or human by condoning evo-language or arrested evo-language.

The parallel of the Kennel Club, even though suffocating Bulldogs and staggering German Shepherds are nothing more than atrocities, is a bit myopic. I am not defending the KC but I am sure they did not set out with the intention of aiding the creation of genetically damaged animals. If anything, the KC situation should not be regarded as a metaphor for what might happen if we arrest the arguably too-fast growth and development of badly written language. Moreover, I would imagine that a true passion for language would most likely reside with those who make efforts to defend it’s proper use. I don’t see that a full understanding of text language, for instance, as the prebiotic soup of a flourishing diversity, unless we just want to go back and start again.

How can we expect to maintain a diversity of language if we abandon all that has gone before in favour of those who have so little passion for language that they cannot be bothered with attention to grammatical detail? We are now, BECAUSE of evolution, able to decide whether we abandon our beautiful language’s intricacies in favour a passion/anger mixed with a “can’t be bothered” attitude towards spelling and grammar. We have all seen the impassioned imbecile on forums, haven’t we? The one who has strong views (mostly developed years ago and remain in stasis) but no wit to make them even slightly entertaining in lieu of a point.

Inclusion is all well and good but evolution is about survival of the fittest by natural selection. I am rubbish at spelling and grammar and would never want to be a real grammar nazi, but I do believe that people are more likely to listen to you if you have a good grasp of what to write and how to write it (isn’t that right, Mr Fry!) I am not keen to watch a novice rider get minced on the wall of death, regardless of how impassioned their initial gear changes might sound. Stuff that (into a cocked crash helmet).

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Posted Wed Feb 25th, 2009 2:39pm Post subject: Language Evolution
I will not correct you (mainly because I'm not sure I understood everything as I should have) I merely wish to add something which always jumps into my mind when someone talks about evolution of language.

A while ago some institution or other decided that the german language needed a word for "not thirsty (anymore)". And so they went and appealed to the public to send them suggestions. Hundreds of people send their suggestions and eventually they settled on "sitt" (in analogy to "satt" which means "not hungry [anymore]") and there was much rejoicing. But then, nobody used it and as time passed by, poor "sit" became an outcast, a victim of his own artificial nature. Nowadays, even the people responsible for the experiment see it as a failure and don't like to talk about it much. I doubt if many people still know that once there was a word which described the wonderful feeling of too much water in your stomach ("Gluggerbauch" as we sometimes call it in german).

What this illustrates is, that no one can influence evolution at will, at least evolution of language. So it is not a question of "should'nt" but of "could'nt"

As for stopping evolution (or change, because that's what it is) when it's already happening, I don't think it's a good idea. Sure, there are times when I look upon postings in forums and visions of certain doom encompass me like a warm, furry blanket intended to strangle me. But then I remind myself that there will always be ignorant people and that it's up to me not to let myself be influenced by them.

I also find that most people who use this kind of language in postings only use this kind of language in postings. They are more or less capable of switching to "normal" english or german when in school, at work etc. I think it might be something like youth language, a sociolect, something to show that they belong to this group of cool people who don't care about grammar and spelling and stuff. We adjust our language to our surroundings and if they change, our language changes too.

As for abandoning everything that was before, I dont think it will come to that. Change takes time, evolution takes time and even if there will always be ignorants there will always be other people too. Change is not made by only one group of people (even if it's a powerful institution like the Duden-Readaktion) but by everyone. And as long as there are people who care about language, who think and talk about it, I'm not overly worried about the changes that are to come.

[Looking back I find that contrary to my first statement, I have tried to correct you. I therefore apologize if I have missed your point or misinterpreted something due to me being a non-native speaker and not understanding half the references to Kennel Club etc.]

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