Last edited by bianca; 01-May-2007 at 11:19.
Like dictionaries, academic institutions' job is only to record the changes no more and no less. AmE is changing even BE in England. There is a lot of Americanism in BE now. But again AmE might be replaced by GE or Globish. Fast communication, less formalities, less accuracy and shortening migh be on the agenda for some time at least functionally. Nevertheless, language has an aesthetic role to fulfill. It will continue to serve our human needs whatever they are or will be.
yes, I agree, AmE is quite popular in England and not only there. But, as I mentioned before, England has its own hierarchy as part of its culture, and the language records this hierarchy in the different ways of addressing different ranks or titles. They won't be giving up the priviledges of ranks for the whimsical changes of language. Despite the fact that AmE is so different than British in its spoken, colloquial forms, without being more altered by the informal British E as it probably is by any other language, it tends to follow the pattern of British formal English both in writing and orally. There's a language hierarchy in AmE as well, with all the influences it's been subjected to over hundreds of years. For language to accomplish this major change, culture must change as well, ranks must be leveled and I don't see this happening. The only "fenomenon" that has leveled ranks so far is love. There's so much hate and selfishness in the world, and nobody thinks that this, too, could have its own impact on relationships between people and indirectly on language. As weird as this may seem...
Last edited by bianca; 01-May-2007 at 17:31.
The selfishness you mention Bianca is:
First of all part of human nature with its advantages and disadvantages. There are advantages because it is a kind of energy which might be used positively. People have become more possessive and self-centred. Ironically we have forgotten that we only live a relatively short span of life. You might be interested in an article I wrote about BE and HAVE in English (I think the title is: Hopeless).
Second I believe it follows the economic principle of scarcity (demand and offer). Competition has grown everywhere due to population growth or the use of technology. For example there is one job available but more than 100 applicants. I agree language is a human tool it won't be spared. This part of linguistics is called socio-linguistics. As you know language is the most inter-disciplinary skill we have. It is the basis for all disciplines and permeats all areas of human life and accordingly there are different types of linguistics. So nobody can deny social impact on language. This would be naive.
Last edited by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim; 01-May-2007 at 16:57.
There you have a point - you mentioned the different types of linguistics. Now, the one dealing with informal English (spoken E everywhere) may be the one most prone to changes. The formal E is going hand in hand with socio-linguistic and the prevalence of ranks, so that I don't see drastic changes on that field.
As for academic institutions, I wonder if their job really is so much about recording the changes in language, as it is about keeping a tight rein on them. Global population growth, yes, it speeds up communication, but changes will be accepted as long as they don't interfere with the clarity in communication. If you open an up-to-date book on elements of style in the English language, there you'll see that accuracy and clarity in language is paramount. Many shortenings are short-lived; they disrupt the clarity of meaning, rather then facilitate communication among people.
Last edited by bianca; 01-May-2007 at 17:29.
1. True formal E won't change as fast as spoken English But socio-linguistics encompasses all social areas whether formal or informal. Now put the degree of formality on a scale as follows:
Very Formal - formal or written language - colloquial - very informal - slang
The change in language has shown a movement (in vocabulary labelling) in steps from informality to formality. This means what was slang can become colloquial and colloquial can change to written English. Often these changes or adoptions of slang words in dictionaries are followed by protests as was the case with Webster when he recorded words like ain't in the dictionary and labelled them colloquial instead of slang.
2. Communication implies interaction between at least two and this means the message must get across. In order to get across a message needs to be clear. Still I am sure you know how many couples (usually women) complain that their partners inspite of sharing one "native language" cannot communicate successfully (gender communication: see Debora Tannen - You just don't understand). This means accuracy alone cannot guarantee successful communication.
Your are right some shortenings are just trends and have a short life cycle. Still communication will gather momentum to comply with the age of speed. A kind of harmonization will always be at work.
Last edited by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim; 01-May-2007 at 18:29.
1. Defficient communication between couples has little to do with clarity, or accuracy, in a language. It has to do with the intrinsic differences between men and women as opposite sexes. Other human sciences than linguistic are better suited to help facilitate a better understanding between men and women. Even the clearest language is sometimes too muddled to allow for a better communication between them. I once heard someone say: "he/she who won't hear is more deaf than the deaf one."
2. I didn't mean that clarity means accuracy. Accuracy is not imperative in conveying a clear message, but clarity, in my opinion, deals with the ability to grab and keep the attention of your audience. Issues such as disruptive shortenings, ambiguous words (i.e.words with the wrong semantic content), or overstatement and overuse of words, to mention a few, interfere more with clarity than grammar accuracy does.
Last edited by bianca; 02-May-2007 at 11:03.
1. Business English puts a lot of emphasis on a well-structured/organised text because mistakes in communication might be costly. I agree there are other disciplines which might be better suited to help the couples with communication but if a text whether written or spoken is coherent and organísed communication might be easier. But of course in conversation you simply cannot signpost your text as you do in a more formal situation.
2. The question whether grammar or vocabulary is more prone to change might vary from language to language. Maybe we are more aware of vocabulary change than grammar change. New generations have their own register. Often they start coining new words or reviving old ones and so on... My impression was that grammar is slower in change.
". I agree there are other disciplines which might be better suited to help the couples with communication but if a text whether written or spoken is coherent and organísed communication might be easier. But of course in conversation you simply cannot signpost your text as you do in a more formal situation.
2. My impression was that grammar is slower in change."
1. Well, I said before and I still believe that it is not always lack of clarity in communication that causes misunderstandings in couples - and not only in couples, but in other contexts as well. There are biases, selfish interests, ignorance, subjectivity and other factors involved that have nothing to do with how clearly you're making your point or how correct grammatically you're language is.
2. I am not sure if grammar or vocabulary is slower in change. Either way, change is going to happen unless it interferes with clarity in communication.
Why do you think that grammar is slower in change?