Two pieces on language change that have appeared in the press recently offer us a really neat contrast between the big picture of change - David Crystal's The Story of English in 100 Words - and the very small details of it - Henry Hitchings' Wall Street Journal piece on the history and future of punctuation.
Crystal picks one hundred English words and uses them to trace a history of the language, taking in foreign loan words like potato and trek, a homegrown Celtic term like brock or a Scots one like wee, as well as many more recent ones from internet culture, abbreviations and cultural shifts.
Hitchings takes a look at punctuation: where it comes from and where it's going. He considers archaic forms like the pilcrow and hedera, ones that he thinks are on their way out like the apostrophe and semi-colon and ones that are coming back in or just appearing, the snark and the interrobang.
Both articles are a good read and offer some excellent examples of how to take a particular element of language - lexis in Crystal's case, orthography in Hitchings' - and trace its changes over time.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Language change: big pictures and little details
Getting the Word Out 2022
WOTY (Word of the Year) Season is in full swing and the lists from the various dictionaries and organisations who produce them, along with t...
As part of the Original Writing section of the NEA, students will be required to produce a commentary on their piece. This blog post will pr...
As lots of students are embarking on the Language Investigation part of the Non-Exam Assessment, I thought it might be handy to pick up a fe...
When Dan asked what he should post about next on this blog, one of the most common responses was this, the World Englishes topic. Maybe ...